Hi, I’m Marcus Chan, Founder of Venli Consulting Group! I help business-to-business sales professionals and companies to sell more and earn more. Even though we are based in Portland, Oregon USA, we have clients all around the world.
Our most popular program is the 6-Figure Sales Academy, which is a high-level sales coaching program. Our typical customers are B2B sales professionals who are looking to improve their skills so they can exceed quota and earn the income they are looking for. In our first year in business, we are very fortunate to have generated multiple-six figures in profit, trained thousands across the globe, and have been featured in several major news publications such as Yahoo! Finance and MarketWatch for our results.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I never wanted to be an entrepreneur and never thought I’d ever been one! The reason being is that my parents were entrepreneurs that owned a small Chinese restaurant. I grew up working my entire life and saw how hard it was to be an entrepreneur! So I went into Corporate America and got a job in B2B sales.
I struggled at first but eventually starting having success. I eventually was promoted 10X in 10 years, won countless awards, and generated $700 million in sales in that time. As I continued to have success, I often had my employees tell me that I “needed to write a book.” I had no idea how to do that so I started to research how.
In 2015, I wrote my first book, “The Corporate Climb: How I Was Promoted 10X in 10 Years.” I made it an ebook and taught myself how to set it up to sell online. I had no idea if anyone would even buy it so I launched it and waited.
Strangely enough, people bought it! The lightbulb went off in my head and I realized that this was something I could monetize. I also realized that I would not be able to leave my multiple six-figure corporate jobs by selling $9 ebooks! So I started researching other ways and came across online courses.
I then started to brainstorm ideas on what the course could be about. I realized then that there was a major opportunity for B2B sales training done via an online course. I knew a lot about it, had the experience, and also had a lot of success training it lives. So I started to build out the online course!
It took me two years to build out version one of the program as I was still working full-time leading a sales force of 110+ employees. In early 2019, I finally finished and I did a soft launch. I woke up and made $1994 overnight! At that moment I knew I had realized two things: One, there was a need for my product. And two, that I could scale a $997 product and I could quit my job. So I planned out carefully how I’d exit and quit my job 6 months later to run the business full-time.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
As I began on the journey of creating the program, I was very overwhelmed and did not know where to begin. So I started to research how to create an online course. One of the pieces of content I consumed that really spoke to me was David Siteman Garland’s, How to Create an Awesome Online Course. I invested in his program and that kickstarted my journey!
Invest in knowledge to grow your business immediately.
I followed his process from start to finish. It wasn’t complex and just took time. I started the process by whiteboard out the structure of my course. I first started with writing out all the end goals of course; to be specific, I wrote down all the things that the student should be able to achieve by completing the program. I also included all the things that I knew they wanted to achieve as a result.
Next, I started to map out backward all the things a student would need to learn on the way to that result. This gave me a structure for the program. Then I created the content and filmed the content. Then I built out my membership site. Finally, after that was all done, I launched my small email list and woke up to two sales for $1994!
Even though the process was simple, it was full of frustrations and headaches on the journey there as I was learning how to do it along the way while working full-time. The entire journey of idea-to-launch took about two years for it to actually monetize.
Describe the process of launching the business.
After my initial launch, since my list was so small, I only made those two sales. However, those two sales were a symbol to me of the potential of the program! I then built out an evergreen sequence that would nurture new leads to potentially close as a result. I continued to work my day job while posting on an Instagram daily and LinkedIn periodically as I knew that would drive organic traffic to my list.
Each month, the list grew and I started to make sales here and there each month until I was able to time out quitting my job. I knew that if I really wanted the business to take off, I needed 100% of my energy into building and driving traffic. Once I quit my job in September 2019, I went all-in on LinkedIn as a way to source my traffic as I knew that’d be a low-cost way to do it.
Before I quit my job, I went and bought a new domain for my new company site and started to build that out. The only site I had so far housed my digital course and blog that I had been posting on for a couple of years. I also mapped out my traffic strategy as well, which was focused entirely on organic social media. I knew that I wanted to keep my costs low as well and that organic could be very effective. (All other prior costs of building the program out had already been done.) Thus, once I officially launched my new business, the only real costs were my business registration and a new website.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
One major concept has been key for attracting and retaining customers: strong content marketing on social media platforms. One key strategy I focused on immediately after launching was utilizing LinkedIn to grow the business. For the first 3-6 months, I spent on average 4-6 hours daily on the platform doing the following:
- Posting targeted and helpful content for my target audience
- Engaging with all their comments on my content
- Commenting and engaging with micro/macro-influencers’ content
- Engaging with my prospects’ content
By doing the above consistently, it showed my prospect’s value and consistency. By showing up every day and doing this, it earned their trust before even the first sales call. The more I did it, the more traffic came my way. Here are some example posts that have done well and have attracted a lot of positive attention due to the value provided:
In the first months, I was doing more direct selling of my program or coaching/consulting. This was fine and I was generating a decent profit but I knew it was not as scalable. I then started testing out doing live webinars and closing at the end. This was a great switch up as that allowed me to close a decent number of students in a group setting.
However, the downside was that each live webinar was like doing a launch each time - meaning, it got exhausting! So then I invested in a business coach who specializes in automating programs like this. I learned how to automate it and it has been amazing for my business.
Today, I continue to drive traffic via organic traffic via all platforms but also own a Facebook Group with over 1000 members that lead to new clients as well. In addition to that, I also used paid traffic as well, which has been very effective in bringing on new clients as well.
Also, what has been key in attracting new clients and retaining clients is simply overdelivering and providing massive value. When our clients get results, they love to share, and that in turn helps us attract more clients. Here are some sample student results below:
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Our business continues to grow every single month doing multiple five-figures per month and we consistently run a 50%+ profit margin on the business. We are still working to improve our paid ad strategy. We currently spend $10K-$20K/month averaging 3-4X ROA. The challenge we run into is that our cost per customer can range from $100-$300/customer on paid traffic. We can offset it with organic traffic but we are working to improve that still.
The future looks incredibly bright as we continue to service our existing clients. We are currently looking into other forms of paid traffic to continue to grow the business.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
As a new entrepreneur, I kept losing focus on what had to be done. Each time I read a new article or listened to a new podcast, what emerged was a new idea. If I heard a successful entrepreneur recommend X, I wanted to go do X now. Then if I heard someone else say do Y, I wanted to do Y now. This can distract you from focusing on what needs to be done. To narrow the focus, block out distractions, and focus.
I also wish I had invested in my business coach sooner. If I had, my business would have had an extra 6 months to grow as working with him helped me improve my offer, how I delivered it, the marketing, etc.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
I’m a firm believer that if you’re starting, keep it very simple. The simpler the better. Here are my most commonly used tools:
- Clickfunnels: I use this for landing pages, hosting my automated webinars, etc.
- ActiveCampaign: I use this for email communication with clients and potential customers.
- Calendly: This calendar booking software.
- LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram: These are the major social media platforms I use and their paid advertising platform as well.
- Paypaland Stripe: These are the payment processors I use.
- Zoom: This is how I host coaching calls.
- Buffer: This is how I schedule social media posts
There you have it - simple and very common tools.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
The first book is The Millionaire Fastlane by MJ Demarco. This book really shifted my perspective on how to truly build a business and wealth. I read this book in 2015/2016 and that was part of my jumpstart into entrepreneurship.
The second resource would be Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income Podcast. Listening to other successful entrepreneurs and different ways to build a business is incredibly inspiring.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
Invest in knowledge to grow your business immediately. Do it before you start the business. If you’ve already started your business, find the gaps you need help, and invest in it. The more time you have to compound that knowledge, the better! It doesn’t mean it will be easy but it will help you narrow your focus and energy. Your future self will thank you!
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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