Business Systems & Automation expert Samantha Whisnant shares her advice for building a next-level client onboarding experience and provides tips for creating a referral program that consistently generates new clients using automation.
Resources from Episode 35:
Episode 35 Transcript:
[00:00:00] Samantha Whisnant: The people who really grew super fast in the online space are making $100k, $200k, $300k a month are also the people that have these automations and tools in place because there’s no way you can onboard 20, 30, 40, 50 clients in a month if you’re doing that manually. The sooner you set that up, the sooner you’re setting yourself up to be able to support a super high capacity, even if you’re not there yet — even if you’re just at like just $5k a month. But if you have a system that can grow with you, then that’s one less thing you have to worry about, and that’s how you can grow really fast.
[Intro Music Plays]
[00:00:32] Sam Chlebowski: Happy Thursday everybody, and welcome back to Designing Growth. Sam Chlebowski here, host of this podcast and co-founder of Motion.io. Joining you today with another exciting guest on the podcast today I have Samantha Whisnant. Sam owns a business called Systems With Sam, where she helps female entrepreneurs scale to their first six figures by organizing and automating their businesses so they can focus on growth.
[00:01:09] Sam does a lot of cool things, with her clients and. Some of the things that we’re trying to do with emotion.io product itself. We had a great conversation, about a week ago, and I was really excited, Sam, to get you on the podcast and kind of like dig in to, you know, not only your story, but the things that you’re doing, the things that you’re helping, business owners with.
[00:01:29] So my first question to you is how are you doing?
[00:01:33] Samantha Whisnant: Good. Excited to be here. Thank you so much for having me on the podcast. I love getting to meet you and Perry last week, and I’m super excited for everything you’re doing at Motion.io. So yeah, excited to chat today even more.
[00:01:46] Sam Chlebowski: Amazing stuff and yeah, I don’t know if I mentioned on that call, but Perry and I have now been working together for like the better part of a decade. He was my first boss right out of college, uh, at Brighter Vision. And then I kind of like, moved up through the company as we grew and we couldn’t get enough of each other.
[00:02:04] So we are back now here again. building motion dot. I own it was, exciting to talk to you, the product kind of hear your story. So my first question for you and something we were just talking about before, I hit the record button here is where are you joining us from?
[00:02:21] Samantha Whisnant: So I am joining you from Amsterdam in the Netherlands. I am living here. I’ve been living here for about six months now, but I’ve been going back and forth. Two, and from the Netherlands, from the States for about two years, a little over two years. And I’m originally from the States, so I’m from Oklahoma.
[00:02:39] If anyone actually knows where that is, usually here I have to give like a, it’s above Texas description. So if you don’t, don’t worry. but yeah, I am. Right now in Amsterdam, and tomorrow is actually a big holiday here, so I’ll be off work. It’s King’s Day, if anyone knows what that is and has experienced it.
[00:02:58] It’s my first one in person, so I’m really looking forward to that.
[00:03:00] Sam Chlebowski: Oh wow. And that is so cool. You know, I’m honestly jealous. My wife and I, we did a ton of traveling. before our baby was born. But you know, obviously if baby comes, can’t really do much traveling, for a little while, we’ll get back at it, within the next year or so.
[00:03:14] But I have heard of King’s Day before. Is that the holiday in. The Netherlands, I guess specifically in Amsterdam where they have all of the crazy like boats and like regattas that go down the canals. Is that part of it or am I thinking of something
[00:03:29] Samantha Whisnant: I think so. I know the biggest part of the holiday is orange, so it’s the King’s birthday, so everyone dresses in orange. So I’ve got myself a nice orange shirt and I think there’s gonna be huge, um, markets and stuff outside of our street. And I’ve heard the canals are. Like insanely full. One of my friends tried to rent a boat for the day and you have to rent them like a year in advance and apparently you can’t even really move on the boat.
[00:03:55] It’s just kind of like you’re sitting on the canals cuz everyone is on boats. yeah, I will definitely let you know if that is the case.
[00:04:01] Sam Chlebowski: How fun I am excited for you. Yeah, go have fun for me. That sounds amazing. I, uh, am also one of the few people who might know where Oklahoma is. I lived there when, I was very little, but two of my brothers were actually born there. My dad was in the Air Force. he was stationed there for a while. So yeah, we lived like just outside of Oklahoma City.
[00:04:24] Samantha Whisnant: Yeah, sounds about right. I’m originally from Tulsa and I grew up there, and I went to school in Stillwater, which is Oklahoma State University. Go pokes. And I actually lived in Oklahoma City the past year before I moved to Amsterdam because I had a lot of friends living there and I actually really liked it.
[00:04:41] Oklahoma City is a super fun, small but very fun city and I did meet a lot of Air Force people whenever I would go out, so I know all about the Air Force
[00:04:52] Sam Chlebowski: I bet. I bet. Yeah. It seems like that is just half of the people you probably meet down there like some way in the military, so. I wanted to dive into your business because, you know, as you’d mentioned, obviously you’re in the Netherlands now. are most of your clients based in the United States?
[00:05:09] What, what does that look like
[00:05:11] Samantha Whisnant: Yeah, so most of my clients are based in the us. Um, I did have one client for a long time that was in the uk. but yeah, right now most of my clients are based in the US as I’m an online business manager. so. With the time difference, that can be a bit tricky. I do a lot of calls and stuff in the evenings, afternoon evenings.
[00:05:29] but a lot of times I do a lot of project work as well and that’s a bit less time constraint in the terms of when I need to be online and when I need to talk to people. So, do really enjoy that. yeah, I think for me it’s been. Since I was living in the States for the majority of the time I was growing my business.
[00:05:46] It was just made sense to work with people, in the States. And also I think online business is a lot more ahead there than it is, in Europe, in the Netherlands specifically. the UK is definitely getting up there, I will say. yeah, so it’s made the most sense. I would like to branch out into more like UK businesses as well, maybe a little bit more in this time zone, but I also love working with.
[00:06:07] American businesses and I understand the market super well, so I’m happy to, do both.
[00:06:12] Sam Chlebowski: Very cool, very cool. later in the episode, I would love to get into like how you are finding those clients and the things that you’re doing from like a marketing standpoint, but wanted to ask you first, so. The evolution of your business, like how did you get to where you are now
[00:06:27] Samantha Whisnant: Yeah. So I actually started my business, Three and a half years ago, I graduated from college with a biochemistry degree, which is obviously nothing what I’m doing now. you know, a lot of things that what you can do with a biochemistry degree is basically go to school, go to grad school, go to medical school.
[00:06:42] So that’s what most of my friends did. I decided not to do that and I wanted to travel you know, eat, pray, love, figure out my life for a little bit. And so I moved to Barcelona with a friend, who was doing a master’s there, and she just was like, if you wanna live with me, you can, I know you wanna travel like.
[00:06:59] Come on. So I went and while I was there, I started teaching English online, which was like my first experience working like fully online. I’m telling you, before I barely knew how to work Excel. Like I may would make like one graph for a lab, and, and that was about it, you know, write a essay for class.
[00:07:15] That was it. Um, and I started teaching English online. I started going down a Google Rabbit hole of how to make. More money online because I was very broke and I wanted to travel, and turns out that costs money. So I just went down this Google Rabbit holes, found how to be a virtual assistant, and found a course on how to do that.
[00:07:36] And so I was like, Okay, let’s give it a shot. I think if anyone can do it, like I can do it, I can figure things out and yeah, just kind of dove in. I worked for free for about the first six months of doing that, just doing internships or like really, really cheap work. writing full blog posts for $50 or something.
[00:07:54] And then I started getting some more clients, COVID actually hit and that boosted my business a lot because online world. really became a lot more legitimate I feel like, during that time. And yeah, from there I just started getting more and more clients applying for more jobs. working on my own skills.
[00:08:12] It was a lot of trial and error. And I think I spent the first really like two full years of just learning as much as I could about business and marketing, because I didn’t have any experience in that or background, And yeah. Now three and a half years later, I. call myself a systems expert.
[00:08:28] I help people build systems that can support, clients up to a hundred K months at a time, and, sports scaling to over a million dollars a year. So it’s definitely been a very long process and hard at times, but it’s been very, very rewarding as well.
[00:08:43] Sam Chlebowski: a couple of things to break down there. My first question for you is, where did you live in
[00:08:49] Samantha Whisnant: I lived, um, off of Marina, so like 10 minute walk to the beach,
[00:08:53] Sam Chlebowski: That is awesome. I studied abroad there in college, and I
[00:08:57] lived in,
[00:08:59] I forget the exact street. It was somewhere in the GRA Garcia neighborhood though.
[00:09:03] I love Barcelona. It’s like one of my favorite places. It’s so interesting and un expecting. like Spanish, but then a beach town at the same
[00:09:11] Samantha Whisnant: It’s very interesting. It’s, it’s like a city but a beach. But there’s also Ballards and there’s so many different types of people there. Like you can meet just such a variety of characters and yeah, I had a blast when I lived there. It was super fun. and that’s actually where I met my, my partner, who I’m living with in Amsterdam now.
[00:09:30] Sam Chlebowski: no way. That is so cool. Another thing I wanted to talk about too, this like trajectory, and you pointed out you basically went from not even knowing how to use Excel to then being a virtual assistant, and now you are so far away from those early days where you are helping people set up systems to automate.
[00:09:49] Parts of their business. And that is just like the polar opposite end of that spectrum to me. And I loved hearing about your story and how were able to do that. Because I think that there’s a lot that people who are looking for different ways to work, maybe they want to be an entrepreneur.
[00:10:05] People can learn a lot from that. tell me if I’m wrong here out of line, but you basically admitted that, Hey, I don’t have these skills right now. Let me go out and first. Learn as much as I can and then let me get some real world experience under my belt by, working for free or just working, on projects that are maybe not what I want to make, but it serves a greater purpose and it gets me to, this sort of end point of where I want to be.
[00:10:31] And I love that story. It’s a piece of advice that I’ve given a couple times Hey, If this is something you wanna do, you want to be an entrepreneur, If you don’t have those skills already, it’s gonna take a level of sacrifice to enable you to get those skills and get that expertise that’s gonna allow you to sell clients, to work with more clients.
[00:10:49] ultimately comes down to, you know, your time and some sacrifices that you have to make. But if it’s something you want to do and it’s something you believe you can do, it’s always going to be worth it, in my opinion.
[00:11:01] Samantha Whisnant: something I tell clients a lot because a lot of people come to me where they’re like, oh, tech is so hard. Systems don’t big sense. Like, you know, blah, blah, blah. And I’m like, look, you don’t have to be Elon Musk to, build the back end of a business like you. doesn’t have to be that hard.
[00:11:15] And the thing is like tech is a skill, like everything we’re doing in entrepreneurship. Is a skill. It’s not a talent. No one is born knowing how to run a business or set up automations it’s really a skill that has to be cultivated, and that’s one of the most important lessons that I’ve learned for myself and what I tell myself a lot whenever I do come with a problem that’s like, I don’t know how I’m going to figure this out, or I don’t know what to do.
[00:11:41] it’s, it’s very much like this. This is not the end of the line. Like This is a skill that I can learn. like, I have skills that are not great still and that I’m not, really working on learning and I’ve accepted that and I’ve outsourced and, gotten through that.
[00:11:55] But it’s not something that I let stop me. And I think that’s very important, especially for people who do wanna be entrepreneurs, is you have to be a problem solver. And like resilience itself is a skill. failing and trying again and figuring out how to solve problems is a skill, but it’s a skill that will last you a lifetime.
[00:12:14] And from this experience, I feel like. In the future, whatever I wanted to do, if I could start a bakery on the side of the road. And yeah, I don’t have any experience like doing any of that. I mean, I can bake cookies, but I could figure it out like I believe in myself because I’ve cultivated that skill of resilience.
[00:12:32] Sam Chlebowski: I think that that is just so eloquently said and I, I couldn’t agree more with that approach that you’ve taken cuz it’s, you know, almost exactly how I’ve approached my life and Concept of problem solving and being a problem solver. Like you said, it can extend to so many other things that you either want to do in life, in business, whatever it is.
[00:12:53] because it all comes down, I think, to if you are a problem solver and you are somebody who says, I can solve this problem, you can teach yourself how to solve that problem. You can teach yourself how to bake. Teach yourself how to write code. You can teach yourself how to manage businesses or help other people manage their businesses.
[00:13:10] So I really love your approach With your business now, what are some of the problems that you are helping other business owners solve? what are these systems that you are helping them
[00:13:23] Samantha Whisnant: So typically when someone comes to me for help, they have usually started making money in their business and they’ve started working with clients. They built a digital product, in some sort of fashion. They’re, they’re already kind of making money. They have an idea. They have, a goal for where they want the business to go.
[00:13:39] but they are very, very overwhelmed with, uh, All of the things that they’re doing, and they’re, they’re starting to become a little burnt out. They’re doing everything. They feel like they’re becoming very time capped. Like maybe they can’t take on any more clients because they’re just so busy managing all the ones they have.
[00:13:57] because there’s no sort of automation in place. There’s no organization in place. And so what I do is I go in and I help them. First organize everything and say, okay, what are the activities that need to get done on like a daily, a weekly, a monthly basis? And typically, I focus first on like, money making activities because that’s, you’re gonna see like a, a direct ROI basically from that.
[00:14:19] So like content processes is a huge one that people are posting content every day on Instagram, YouTube, whatever. But they’re not systemizing it at all. There’s no process around the actual creation. It’s just like, oh, I need to post today. Like, let me, you know, log on and up, throw up a picture, and write a caption.
[00:14:36] And suddenly that takes an hour. but there’s no batching. And even if they tried to, Create a bunch of content in advance, they get stuck because they’re, spending two hours creating one reel and it’s frustrating. so really getting like a clear process around those types of things. And the other part of that is like, client onboarding is such a huge one for me, because I really believe like a good client experience will.
[00:15:01] A boost your client’s results. Like even just from the onboarding, part or like the management part. Your clients will be so much more excited to work with you and that’s how you actually grow, right? That’s how you grow your reputation is because, You want people talking about, oh my gosh, it was so easy to work with you.
[00:15:17] That’s something my clients say a lot, that I, really, really value as they say, wow, it’s so easy to work with you. It’s so easy to communicate with you. I never have to like wonder what’s going on. And I think that’s so important, especially if you are charging, up in like the four figure five figures for investments, then you need to have those systems to back it up so those clients feel supported.
[00:15:38] Otherwise there’s gonna be a lot of like buyer’s remorse and, oh my God, why did I pay this much money for this? And I haven’t heard from this person in three days and they’re not answering me. And maybe that’s not, you know, what you intended. But when you don’t have those types of systems in place, that’s what ends up happening.
[00:15:54] Sam Chlebowski: It’s a interesting time I think for small businesses in their relationship with software in particular because, the businesses that I’ve worked with, um, at a larger scale. And I’ve worked for, um, you know, startups and then, another big sort of conglomerate of technology companies everybody there was using.
[00:16:15] These very advanced tech stacks. Before the pandemic, they were using automations, they were using a crm, they were doing all of this work, and they knew that they had to because that was always a big thing in the startup and tech space. It’s like you need these systems in place so that you don’t have to rely on.
[00:16:33] Manual, work and manual effort and the associated costs that come with that what’s interesting for me is that it seems like small businesses in particular, and you actually touched on this, when you were talking about kinda the trajectory of your business and how grew a lot during Covid.
[00:16:48] It seems like that that period of time, to me, and, you know, tell me if you think I’m wrong here, correlated with a. Huge amount of adoption and awareness for automation and new pieces of technology that small businesses can use in a way that I don’t think we saw the 10 previous to that, people became aware of these tools, tools like Zapier, project management tools or ways to automate parts of their client experience and provide a better experience. It really came, you know, front and center. And I think what you had mentioned specifically about onboarding is a great example about that.
[00:17:24] And there’s a lot of like awareness around that right now. One of the things that I’ve heard, specifically when, as it relates to onboarding and why it’s so important ultimately, is that when a client signs a contract and they agree to work with you, they are super happy at that point.
[00:17:40] And if your next step and your onboarding process lets them down and it feels like there’s not the communication they need, that is a pivotal point. In the project that can end up like really breaking things. And if that’s not streamlined, if that’s not easy, you take all of that client’s excitement right out of their hands and they are immediately questioning everything you will do with them from that point on.
[00:18:04] you tell me a little bit about What you are doing from an onboarding standpoint and these systems that you’re setting up for people, to improve their onboarding
[00:18:14] Samantha Whisnant: yeah. Love that point that you made because it’s exactly what like I try to focus on is like, how can you keep that excitement up? Because the thing is on the client side of it, especially if they’re paying thousands, Of dollars for something. It’s excitement, but it’s also nervous.
[00:18:28] Like, oh, if I couldn’t get that return on my investment, that I, really, really hope to get. but I don’t wanna be disappointed. in terms of client experience, and especially to touch back on like how you were talking about where client experience has become such a hot topic these days as I really think it’s because people are seeing, the people who really grew super fast in the online space and are making, you know, a hundred K, 200 K, 300 K months are also the people that have these automations and tools in place because there’s no way you can onboard.
[00:18:59] 20, 30, 40, 50 clients in a month if you’re doing that manually. The sooner you set that up, the sooner you’re setting yourself up to be able to support a super high capacity, even if you’re not there yet. Even if you’re just at like, you know, 5K months or something. But if you have a system that can grow with you, then that’s one less thing you have to worry about, and that’s.
[00:19:18] How you can grow really fast. and you can support, especially with like viral things these days. Like you can go viral basically at any time. So you wanna make sure if you do go viral, okay, how are you actually gonna support that amount of people like coming into your world. but in terms of like the onboarding tips, I love to use a mixture of tools.
[00:19:37] So, Right now, my kind of favorite thing to do is I love to use a checkout page, like a super simple checkout page for clients. and that will be like the start of the process because I think that’s very easy for clients to just, use a checkout page that’s super familiar. And then it’s also great if you have like payment plans and stuff like that because it’s all recurring.
[00:19:55] You don’t have to send invoices or anything every month. And then from there you can connect things with Zapier. I love using DeSoto. That’s something I use for my business, to automatically send a contract and then once they sign that contract, automatically send that welcome email, automatically send a call scheduler for them to book their first call if that’s part of your process.
[00:20:14] welcome email is where someone, people. I think kind of overlooked that. Like they don’t think it’s that important, but that’s honestly like their first impression all over again. Like you said, they’re making this payment and then okay, well what now? Like I just gave you $3,000, like what am I supposed to do now? And so really having those like high touch points personalization, and that’s something that can be automated. Because I also know there’s like a debate around.
[00:20:38] Automation in terms of it’s not personal and I don’t wanna sound like a robot, but there’s ways to make your automation very personalized or just very on brand, where you’re setting the expectations upfront. I think that’s something that’s super important and that first piece of contact here’s what’s gonna happen.
[00:20:53] Here’s your next steps, here’s what you can expect to work with me to just. go ahead and set that up. And then another tip I love to implement is giving the client something immediately. So if you’re signing on for a project that doesn’t start for four weeks, or you’re a coach and you’re, kickoff call isn’t for two weeks, What can you give the client immediately to start working on? So whether that’s a journal, a pdf, a book, a, you know, strengths finder test, a course that you’ve created, just giving them something so they already feel like, oh, I’m getting something even though I haven’t started my program. still is just like that immediate energy exchange where they’re excited about it and it gives them something to do right away.
[00:21:34] And then also collecting as much information from your client as possible in that. So like giving them an onboarding form, really getting to know them in their business and getting all that information up front can help way later down the line when you’re working with this person and when you have that first kickoff call, because it’s, already feel like they’re building a relationship with you before you even started the, actual work.
[00:21:54] Sam Chlebowski: I. would really sum up into the phrase no, like, and trust. And so much of what you said about onboarding and those tips that you would provide, which that was just like an absolute gold mine, by the way. Is every piece of that puzzle, welcome email, that’s your client’s chance to really get to know you.
[00:22:12] And then, pieces like, asking them personalized questions about themselves, that’s when they like you and sending them something right away. That’s all of that trust piece. And I love that idea. Because I can immediately understand too, if I’m a client, right, and I make this payment, getting something right away from the business that I’m working with, even if our project might not start, for a week or two or maybe even a month, the fact that they are willing to send me something right away like that is so
[00:22:42] Samantha Whisnant: Yeah, it’s a surprise. Like it’s a nice surprise. It’s something they’re not expecting. And I love how you put it like, no, like, and trust and like you do that in your marketing already or like that’s what you’re probably aiming to do to get people to work with you. So like why not continue that? In that actual relationship.
[00:22:58] and it will just make your relationship with your client better because like you were saying earlier, if they go into it and they’re already having some doubts, like disappointment, it’s gonna put that mood on the whole project. But if you’re keeping that excitement up, then the project’s probably gonna be a lot more smooth anyway.
[00:23:15] Sam Chlebowski: I mean, it’s lessons that I’ve honestly like learned the hard way
[00:23:19] Samantha Whisnant: Yeah. Same.
[00:23:21] Sam Chlebowski: cool to like hear you say it because, yeah, I imagine that the same thing has happened, with you that you have to learn these lessons sometimes the hard way. and part of what it comes down to me too is setting expectations.
[00:23:30] We were doing at one point, like 2 50, 300 websites a month for clients and it was all personalized. But we had to really lean on automation at certain points, to do things like set expectations about the project.
[00:23:44] Some of what you had said about here’s what’s gonna happen at these various stages, here’s what I’ll need from you throughout the project, Super, super important stuff
[00:23:53] Samantha Whisnant: I think that’s like one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned working with clients is you can never communicate enough, communication is so key and especially communication about expectations, because if you’re the one setting the expectations, Unless you’re not meeting those expectations, your client can’t be really disappointed, right?
[00:24:11] Because you’re telling them like what you’re going to do and then you’re going to do it. And even if maybe you do a bit more and then they’re excited or you, you do what you deliver and they can’t really say anything that they’re happy about that. And so it’s like you can never communicate too much with your clients or be overbearing, in my opinion.
[00:24:28] Especially if you’re working on like 250, 300 websites a month, using automation in that sense to really just set those expectations up front is going to change the way your business works, and it’s also going to change the way your clients are, receiving your energy and your project.
[00:24:44] Sam Chlebowski: Yeah, it’s almost like if you don’t set, if you’re not the one to set the expectations, they’re gonna be set for you
[00:24:50] Samantha Whisnant: hundred percent. And you can’t read your client’s mind. Your client can’t read your mind. So that’s something I had to learn. The hard way is like, I can’t read my client’s mind. I don’t know what they’re thinking unless they tell me. But I can go ahead and say, well, I’m thinking,
[00:25:04] Sam Chlebowski: Thinking about how we were using, automation and things like automated workflows sending emails for us, checking things off for us, for our client’s project. and something we’ve taken into motion.io, and it sounds like something that you also believe in too, I think that using automation gives you more time to not be a robot. if you can do these things that are super repetitive things you know you’re gonna be doing for every project, communicating for every project, it gives you more time. To then provide a personalized experience to hop on that extra phone call to, even meet with a client in person, and get to know them at, kind of a more personal level.
[00:25:46] And I think that when you can use automation in that way to actually make your client’s experience better while also taking work off your plate, it’s a win-win for
[00:25:56] Samantha Whisnant: Yeah, I totally agree. And That’s the thing is you can use automation to show up more presently in your business because you’re not thinking about the 500 other things that you have to do that are like super small. Like send that email, send that contract, send that invoice, you know, and that’s something that my clients say a lot as well, is.
[00:26:14] When they come to me, it’s like they can’t even, be present in, what they’re doing with their clients. I had a personal trainer client who this was really, really impacting her and she was like, even in sessions, I am not able to like be fully present cuz then I’ll remember something that I forgot to do and I’ll remember this email that I didn’t send and you
[00:26:31] think about this project that I forgot about. so it was really about creating those systems for her to be able to brain dump all of that stuff in and also like remind her to do things and automate those parts so she didn’t have to think about that because she knew in the back of her mind then that that was already done.
[00:26:47] so she could just actually be, when she was coaching, she could just be in coaching mode.
[00:26:52] Sam Chlebowski: The reason why I love that example so much, it gets like totally to the heart of what we’ve been kind of discussing this whole time, if your mind is somewhere else, when you are spending that time with the client, that’s not gonna be nearly as valuable.
[00:27:03] So if you can take some of this work off your plate. Streamline your processes. It’s better for everybody. I promised that we were gonna circle background to it, and I think now is a great time. Let’s talk about marketing. You’re clearly running it, very successful business. sounds like things are going super well.
[00:27:19] What are you doing for marketing?
[00:27:20] Samantha Whisnant: Yeah. So, I do a lot on Instagram at the moment, and I’ve been growing that for about a year now. and now that’s pretty much like systemized and good to go. So I’ve been doing some more stuff on LinkedIn and now my biggest goal for like q1, Q2 this year was definitely like, Visibility, getting on podcasts, doing a lot more networking and collaborations.
[00:27:45] when I first started my business, I was like, I’m never gonna go on Instagram and talk about this. It was just kind of like, uh, being from Oklahoma, no one was really do this. And I think I was a bit, you know, embarrassed, but. To just to be different. And I don’t know, over time, I’ve just seen the relationships that you can actually build on social media, which sounds kind of cliche, but it’s true and it’s worked for me really well.
[00:28:07] but a lot of my business has actually come through referrals, which I love that, you know, my clients love me enough to refer people. I think for the past six months to a year, probably a year actually, been mostly referral based, referrals are definitely like my number one marketing tool and that’s something that’s built over time. but I also have implemented a pretty good referral system where I do reward people if they refer me. So I think that helps as well.
[00:28:34] Sam Chlebowski: That was gonna be my, one of my questions too. Anytime somebody is like, I get a lot of referrals. I think that somebody else hearing that who doesn’t get a lot of referrals is like, well, why am I not getting referrals? the question I always ask is like, well, do you have a system in place to compensate people know, are you sending emails to your previous clients and asking them for a referral? If you’re not asking and you don’t have a system for it, it’s like, You’re gonna get a lot less referrals. So what, what does that system look
[00:29:04] Samantha Whisnant: Yeah, and I think it’s also just staying top of mind, like you said, like emailing past clients, keeping them in the loop. I think something that has worked really well for me is I do a lot of project-based work have two different types of projects where one of ’em I’m going in and I’m setting up all these systems that I’m talking about, and that’s a very, like, cut and dry project.
[00:29:23] So that’s super easy for people to refer because Anyone who goes through that knows exactly what that looks like, and they also know that that is what that will look like for someone else. So I think a lot of times when we have vague work, it’s very hard to refer because maybe it doesn’t fit exactly what someone’s looking for.
[00:29:40] And, and that’s the other thing with marketing, we think, oh, maybe, being more vague and being more open is how we’re gonna attract more people. But, but that’s not true because in the end of the day, if you, especially if you’re a service-based business, you want to be known as like this person, right?
[00:29:54] oh, Sam is the systems, she’s my go-to systems person. Like, that’s what my clients tell me, my go-to automation person. And so anytime someone else needs that, even if it’s not the exact same thing, it’s like, oh. Go check out Sam. she’s great. She helped me with like all of these problems. so that would be step one is make yourself easy to refer.
[00:30:13] pick one thing, be really good at it. Work it kind of like a system. Have a process in place that clients know what they’re actually experiencing when they’re working with you. And then, yeah, number two is like, Put the referrals out there. I tell all my clients, when I, I am offboarding them.
[00:30:28] When they finish a project, I’m like, Hey, here’s this feedback form. Can you fill that out? Also, just to let you know, I do have a referral program. here’s the details I have just like a Google doc. It’s not fancy. refer these services, this is what you will get a payout for. and it works well because, The thing is, people will refer you probably whether you’re getting paid or not.
[00:30:48] but they have to know about the service. And another thing I do is I put it on the bottom of my invoices. So every time a client gets an invoice, just on the bottom, like PS and, um, Yeah, and just sharing, testimonials from clients I think can also be super helpful because when they see that they’re remembering oh, wow, yeah, that was such a great experience working with you.
[00:31:07] Or, oh, I’m so glad to see someone else had a great experience, just remembered someone. Was talking to me about how great this system looks the other day, I should tell them like, oh, Sam’s the one who built it for me. so yeah, like really having a personal relationship, not looking at it as just, oh, this is another project.
[00:31:24] This is just, you know, another income. Like, I really try to have good relationships with all of my clients and know them on, somewhat of a personal level. And I think that really helps the referral right as well because, clients really enjoy that. And online it can feel, a bit robotic sometimes or like disconnected because we’re always talking on Zoom or Slack, or whatever.
[00:31:45] We’re not talking in person, but that doesn’t mean it has to be disconnected.
[00:31:49] Sam Chlebowski: That was a two minute masterclass in like how to build a successful, referral program. one of the things you had said actually two of the things you said, but, putting the referral program on the bottom of your invoices genius,
[00:32:01] Samantha Whisnant: Yeah, tell people, remind people that, oh, I do offer referral fees. I say fees, but rewards or whatever you wanna call it.
[00:32:09] Sam Chlebowski: Yeah, cuz they’re, they’re making this payment. They’re like, oh, how could I get some money back from this project? Great. There we go. and then the other thing that you said that I thought was just like a piece of wisdom that I’ve never heard, put this way. you need to make it easy for you to need to know that you are.
[00:32:26] The X person for Y type of thing. And I love that. It’s something I hadn’t really thought about that it probably could have been a little bit more effective if I had thought about that. when we were building websites, at Brighter Vision, it was websites for mental health professionals
[00:32:44] Samantha Whisnant: That’s super easy to refer. Anyone who is a mental health professional that gets a website from there. And tells all their mental health professional friends, like right now, I will tell you I’m in like the author space. I got here randomly, but now I’m working with like, yeah, I’m working with like all these author authors who also have digital products.
[00:33:03] Very niche, but they all refer to everyone, and I have a very specific service that somehow works for them. I, I, I don’t know, I, I didn’t equate it for them, but it works perfectly for them and they love it and It just keeps going and going and going because it’s just easy to refer.
[00:33:21] Sam Chlebowski: Yeah, that is like. I mean, some of the best advice and then like firsthand anecdotes of building a successful referral program. I’ve, I’ve ever heard, so many people are like, all of my business comes through referrals. Uh, and they
[00:33:34] never actually tell you like
[00:33:35] all of the work that goes into that.
[00:33:38] And you just exemplified that. Yeah, this didn’t happen overnight. you were very intentional about what you’re doing and how you’ve been able to grow. This business through a, a network of really healthy referrals. So
[00:33:52] Samantha Whisnant: Yeah. Thank you. it’s. Something that like I always wanted whenever I was starting the business, cuz I also heard that like, oh, my business is all referrals. And I was like, well, great. no one’s referring me. I have no idea like what I’m doing, or what I’m doing wrong, but. it’s just a long game.
[00:34:06] Right? And it, it also comes with networking. And I think something that I’ve learned with really diving into networking, um, the past, four months that I’ve been really trying to network more is to really specify like what you are doing in a very, very easy, digestible way that people can remember.
[00:34:24] And if they can remember it, then they’ll tell people about it. And it’s the same that goes with referrals. So even if it’s not for work, if someone wanted me, had me on their podcast and then someone else was talking about having someone with systems on their podcast, if they can remember. what I do in a super easy way, it’s obviously they will remember to tell that
[00:34:43] Sam Chlebowski: Genius. I mean, I’ve learned a lot just from speaking with you on this episode. Like this is, so cool and so. Amazing to hear about, all of the success that you’ve had and these things that you are doing, within your business. the entrepreneurial journey is something that I love hearing about and it’s part of the reason, like why I love recording these episodes in the first place.
[00:35:03] Samantha Whisnant: Yeah, I totally agree. Like, I mean, I’ll tell you, even last week I was feeling like, what am I doing? it’s easy to just feel like, what am I doing? Why am I doing this? this is all kind of like made up almost like I just have been doing this for three years, but what am I really doing? What’s the goal?
[00:35:18] And so it’s also nice to like talk about this and have that community of other entrepreneurs to remind you that it is part of a journey and there’s ups and there’s downs. But I see myself as like an entrepreneur forever now. Like I will always. Be an entrepreneur now because that’s what I love.
[00:35:34] And even if I’m doing something else in five years that’s, that’s not this business, that’s fine. But staying focused and just staying in that journey to continue to grow to your next thing.
[00:35:45] Sam Chlebowski: Yeah, I think once, you know, entrepreneurship gets its hooks in you, it’s pretty hard
[00:35:49] Samantha Whisnant: It’s like it’s hard to shake off.
[00:35:52] Sam Chlebowski: Amazing stuff. So thank you Sam, so much for your time here today. it’s been just an awesome chat, incredibly inspiring and also incredibly insightful and informative too. I think that there’s a lot of nuggets you can take away and that, other business owners can benefit from.
[00:36:06] So thank you again so much. One final question before we wrap up. If people want to learn more about you and the work that, you are doing, uh, where
[00:36:14] Samantha Whisnant: You can check me out at www.systemswithsam.com. I have a free quiz if you forward slash quiz. You can see what systems you are missing in your business today. you can also find me on Instagram. I am on there a little too much, to be honest. But I’m @samwhizzz
[00:36:34] Sam Chlebowski: And we will put links to those things in the show notes of this episode Also, what a great domain name. How did you snag that?
[00:36:42] Samantha Whisnant: I actually just bought it like six months ago, so thank you.
[00:36:46] Sam Chlebowski: Did you have to pay extra for it or was it just available?
[00:36:48] Samantha Whisnant: No, I think it was like $10. No one, no one had that. decided like I think about six months or a year ago to just rebrand to Systems with Sams. Luckily for me it was still available. The Instagram name was also available. I’m not posting on that one, but, got lucky with that.
[00:37:03] Sam Chlebowski: Money. Money. That is awesome. Yeah, it’s, it’s always great when you like find that perfect domain and it’s
[00:37:09] Samantha Whisnant: Yeah.
[00:37:09] Easy to remember, right? Easy to refer.
[00:37:12] Sam Chlebowski: If we talk again in the future I, uh, can maybe tell you the story of how we got this motion.io domain name. It’s, uh, it’s a pretty crazy one. Perry loves buying domain names.
[00:37:22] Samantha Whisnant: Oh, so does my boyfriend.
[00:37:24] Sam Chlebowski: Oh,
[00:37:25] Samantha Whisnant: Yes. he is like, oh, I bought three domain names today. I’m like, for what?
[00:37:29] Sam Chlebowski: Does he flip them?
[00:37:30] Samantha Whisnant:Yeah, he tries to.
[00:37:32] Sam Chlebowski: it almost feels like betting, flipping domain names. You’re like, is this gonna be worth something? It’s like a total gamble, I feel
[00:37:39] Samantha Whisnant: It is I think.
[00:37:40] Sam Chlebowski: Thank you so much, Sam, for your time. If you liked this episode, it would mean the world to us if you went on Apple or Spotify and gave us a five-star review. If there’s topics you want us to cover next or you’re interested in being a guest on the Designing Growth Podcast, go ahead to our website, fill out a contact form and I will be in touch.
[00:37:59] I do respond to all of those emails personally. So go to our website at Motion.io, fill out a contact form and leave us a five-star review on Apple or Spotify. Until next time, everybody, my name is Sam Chlebowski, host of the Design and Growth Podcast. Have fun, good luck, and go crush it.