How to Build a Pipeline of Clients with David Strausser

How to Build a Pipeline of Clients

with David Strausser

OHow to create your own pipeline of leads for your business with David Struasser 👇

The only way your business is going to work is if you bring in new clients. For some people, generating leads is a challenge and other people rock at it. Either way, this episode of Profitable Joyful Consulting about creating your own pipeline of leads is for you – so you can bring in new business without just being dependent upon referrals.

Learn how to create an ongoing steady flow of leads in your consulting business in this episode with David Strausser.

Key areas discussed in this episode

  • 0:00 Introduction
  • 2:20 How David began his career
  • 8:47 David’s key to networking
  • 13:55 How to get people into the room at an event
  • 17:03 How to follow up on the connections you make and turn them into business
  • 22:02 What drove David to leave consulting and start to work for a company
  • 25:05 Following your heart and choosing fulfillment
  • 26:00 Putting yourself into places where you can maximize success
  • 27:08 Building a powerful personal brand
  • 30:11 How David launched and grew his podcast, Shark Bite Biz, as part of his personal brand
  • 33:30 What David has learned over almost 170 episodes of his podcast
  • 34:35 Business themes David sees emerging from conversations with guests

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Podcast Transcript

The only way your business is going to work is if you bring in new clients. For some people, generating leads is a challenge and other people rock at it.

Either way, this episode of Profitable Joyful Consulting about creating your own pipeline of leads is for you – so you can bring in new business without just being dependent upon referrals.

Learn how to create an ongoing steady flow of leads in your consulting business in this episode with David Strausser.

Samantha Hartley David Strasser, welcome to the Profitable Joyful Consulting Podcast. 

David Strausser Thank you so much for allowing me to come on your show. We have plenty in common, and I really just can’t wait to discuss with you and your viewers all the awesome stuff that I think both of us are doing. 

Samantha Hartley Yes. One of the big things that we have in common is that we have video podcasts, but a commitment to business growth. I loved learning this about you and hearing about this on your show, the way that you focus on business growth and not just in your professional work, but also on the Shark Bite Biz Podcast. 

Can we kind of dial back to the beginning and start with something that you and I also have in common, which is that you began your career, your professional career in a foreign country. 

David Strausser Yeah. So it was kind of crazy. I’m originally from rural Pennsylvania and I ended up just getting tired of it. It’s one of those places, especially back then, where you have ideas and it’s like, “No, you can’t do that, No, that’s done.” I just got tired of having ideas and everybody around me saying no. So it’s like, I want to get out of here. 

I was supposed to be in London, but what happened was my buddy watched this movie called Born in East L.A. that stars Cheech Marin. So instead of London, we ended up moving to Tijuana over that movie and it’s two months after September 11th. 

I did live in a rougher neighborhood for most of my time living in Tijuana, which many would consider the literal Tijuana ghetto, where it’s dirt roads, outhouses, some of the poorest people that you can imagine. 

So it was a pretty humbling experience, living for that amount of time and that part of the world and just seeing things through a different lens. 

Samantha Hartley Yeah, it does. So you began a business while you were there. 

David Strausser It was really around 2008’ish, it was really, really hard to find a job. The economy was in a wreck. I’m technically a millennial, but I categorize myself as a Xenial being at that age. A lot of people like me already had families and were in the workforce for many years when the economy collapsed. That’s where it was very rough. I wasn’t able to find work. It was some of the downright hardest times of my life. 

What I was able to find, though, and this was kind of out of necessity, I was able to discover, “Well I’m fluent in Spanish, I know a lot of people in Mexico, why don’t I try bringing American products down into Mexico,” especially during this time period.

I fnd myself working mostly with tech companies and eventually in tourist technology. As far as the border cameras. When I say border cameras people think I’m talking about cameras looking for people crossing the border, like jumping a fence.

I’m talking about the lines because you never know how long the line is to get into the United States. It could be 30 minutes, it could be 6 hours long. So what we did was set up cameras there focused on key points of the border. That way daily border travelers like myself could look at these small, quick video clips and say, “Okay, this is where the line is and based upon that, this is a speed, I’m going to need 2 hours to get across the border today.” It was a pretty cool, successful service because they do cross hundreds of thousands of people through Tijuana to San Diego every single day.

Samantha Hartley So what I hear in this is essentially a kind of scrappiness and that entrepreneurial spirit of like, I don’t have something going on, I need to have something going on. That’s where a lot of us will get our hustle from, you have the fire when you need it. 

David Strausser I really had to hustle. It was very gritty. It was real, it was fighting tooth and nail just to make a living. It’s also the point where I decided that maybe it’s a good time to study as well, too. So I started with college. I did Penn State World Campus, which is pretty cool because they’ve written up many articles on me as being one of their big success stories. That was really, really awesome to have happened.

I was trying to do whatever I could to make ends meet. You have to remember, I’m doing these contracts that call for me to do some activities, but I still have to be out there finding more work. That’s where eventually it killed me after so many years. 

Samantha Hartley Well when it does sustain us, though, I think figuring out what problem can I solve and how can I do this? When I began my professional career overseas, I was in Russia and the first things that we did were import American stuff over into Russia. Any time you’re in an international environment, the trade opportunities are there.

David Strausser That’s like the low hanging fruit. 

Samantha Hartley Totally low hanging fruit. Exactly. I really feel that it is created like an adaptability that comes up in entrepreneurship. I really see the hustle. I see this kind of need to identify a problem and solve it. And the topic that I want to talk to you about today is like creating your own pipeline.

What I think is I really try to instill in my clients is like, it’s impossible to create your own pipeline unless you have the hustle. As you said, I have a thing going on, but I still need to be getting clients. So it’s really a lot like spinning multiple plates, which can be stressful. I think that’s where we kind of find out, is this the thing that you want to spend your time doing, or do not want to spend your time doing that?

So what do you think in terms of creating your own pipeline? What would you say are the major factors that allow you to do that? 

David Strausser So you have to think there’s COVID, there’s pre-COVID. Can I say that we’re in a post-COVID world or an almost post-COVID world at this point? 

Samantha Hartley I sure hope so. 

David Strausser So, before COVID, one of the things that I did was I networked a lot. One of my keys to networking is I don’t try to meet every single person in the room. If I can, because there’s only ten people there, yeah, I’ll do it. If you’re in a larger venue where there could be 50 or 100 or a couple hundred people, it’s pretty hard to do that. I want to find one reliable contact from this venue, this event, whether it is somebody that can present a business opportunity, someone who could be a potential lead, a partner, or even someone who is actually pretty cool and I might want to be friends with them.

So I always go there with the goal in mind that if you come out of there with something of value, and what that item of value is differs for everybody and what you’re looking for at that point. Now that’s one part of the game. 

The other part of the game is that I learned that it is a hustle if you’re just trying to go to a networking event, after networking event, after networking event. You get bored. There is just a point where it’s like, “Is it really worth it for me?” That’s where I kind of decided to flip this script.

I listen to Jeffrey Gitomer’s Little Red Book of Selling. He said, the number one way to get leads is, free speech, getting out there and speaking as much as you can. Networking is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. So I reversed the tables to bring all those needles to me.

 

I did that a couple of different ways. Pre-COVID, I was doing live shows, we called it the Anti-Luncheon. We didn’t want people to think that it was a regular networking event. We were going to do things differently. I mean, our appetizers were chocolate cake. We had an incredible menu of very creative chefs and we’d start with dessert first, it was just that anti-lunching theme.

We had people that you would not think of as traditional speakers at the event. Some of the keynote speakers we had were William Hung twice, for example from American Idol. 

We’ve had him and his incredible business story about reaching your dreams and how to handle fame. Originally people were like William Hung, “Why are you having him, what does he have to do with business?” Well, first off, he’s going to do ‘She Bangs’ during the happy hour. Second off, he does have an inspiring story for business owners as far as reaching your dreams.

The other one that we did was with the Verve Pipe’s Brian Vander Ark, who sings the world famous song, formerly number one hit, The Freshman. His story is about the ups and downs, and fighting through it so that you can continue.

We basically did a networking event, the ones that I was burnt out on doing. We would fill the room with 100 to 150 different executives and small business owners. There were a lot of people that may have been one or two person shops, like a small insurance agency or a small financial services company. We would pack that luncheon with the anti-lunching phenomenon.

I tried to do my own spin, my own take. You got to remember, I was doing this out in L.A. as well too, which you’re fighting for anybody’s attention. To draw them to an event, it’s hard because there’s so much competition out there for sure. 

We were planning on doing that out here and we were going to call it the Northeast Road Show, and go throughout the Northeast, think like minor league baseball cities. Then COVID hit so we ended up having to cancel it. At first it was like, “Okay, this is just going to be delayed.” Obviously, we were thinking about two weeks. Then come May we knew this looked like it’s not going away.

So that’s where the podcast came in, Shark Bite Biz. It was like, well, if I can’t do the live events, then I’m going to do the next best thing by doing the podcast itself. 

Samantha Hartley I really love that. Can you delve a little more deeply into how you actually got people into the room in LA? Is this like email campaigns or are you contacting people you’ve talked to before? I do think people do events and I think we’re going to begin to do more events. And it is difficult, or it can be difficult to get people in the room. So especially in L.A., as you said. 

David Strausser Yeah. The very first rule of doing your own event is make sure that you’re doing it unselfishly. It’s one of my big my big points because if your cohorts, your speakers that you’re doing the show with, if they think that you’re just doing the show just for you and your ROI and your interest, you’re not going to get a lot of buy-in. I always tell everybody, “Hey, you people are the rockstars of this show, I’m going to make you guys look amazing and put you in the best possible position.” Then ultimately it reflects upon me, I believe what goes around comes around. That’s the message I sent to the speakers and to the sponsors.

It was also a sense of shared responsibility, we have eight speakers, including the one discussion panel that we had that would be at the show. So everybody pulls in ten people from your network. Everybody has at least ten people in their network that can come and then also partnering with somebody, we used the City Club in Los Angeles, which I absolutely loved. So they have their membership and they’d be promoting it as well too. You could do the same thing with a local chamber of commerce or something like that. Pair up with another agency that has the membership and it helps get the word out.

We did emails, at my day job, Vision 33, we ended up pulling all the clients that were within a 60 or 70 mile radius of downtown Los Angeles that we had in our HubSpot database. I also had my own personal list as well in MailChimp. Between everybody doing their work together, emailing their clients, they made sure that we had a packed room every single time. 

Samantha Hartley Amazing, I love the spirit of generosity that you’re referencing. So you really take on more of a role of an event producer and bringing value to people, which puts that kind of aura of value over you. How to follow up from an event and turn that into business?

David Strausser At that time when I did the first show, I was in a moderator type position. I would moderate the discussion panel and introduce the speakers. I was not as comfortable publicly speaking as I am now. I learned a lot with the podcast. If I had to do things over, I probably would have more of the keynote type speaking spot.

The way that I made sure that we were able to get business and we got multimillion dollar deals off of these events was the speakers. That’s the key. If you’re putting on an event where you’re looking for the ROI, you have to ask, how am I going to make sure the speakers get there? I’ve got to look at it from their point of view. Synergy matters. Target a specific audience by having a core theme for the event and make sure everybody complements each other.

For example, we had one that was about distributing because there’s a lot of distributors that are based out of L.A. They manufacture in China and have distribution offices in L.A. or Orange County. We made sure that we had a theme for the event and then the speakers lined up with that theme.

Samantha Hartley I love that it really illustrates what I think is the beauty in the opportunity in networking, which is it’s not who you know and it’s not necessarily who they know. It can be like those outer layers of who they know.

Again, what I always say in networking is to look for that spark. You’re going to find your people, you’re going to find your opportunity. I think coming at it with that kind of generosity and open mindedness is how that kind of thing can happen. Your person, your collaborator trusts you to bring their big client to that event. That kind of thing is important. 

David Strausser If you go into it with your ego, or  thinking, “Hey, I’m the one that’s going to bring on the bank.” The people that are involved with the event, they’re obviously business professionals and they’re probably somewhat smarter. They’re going to sniff that out pretty quick. It’s transparency like, “Hey, we all want to earn business, we all want to do it together.” It’s a collaborative effort where we all pull our weight. Everybody had their codes, we were tracking it, and me leading the charge was pushing that.

We did three events, they were spread out about one every six months up until I moved to Philly. It was pretty, pretty successful and I was kind of bummed that it never took off out here because of COVID.

Then again, I ended up starting the podcast and I would say doing the podcast is better than events because I’ve met so many awesome people intimately. Like you and me, how we’re talking right now, you know more about me in this interview than if we met at a networking event. 

Samantha Hartley Exactly, you get to spend quality time together. So you are known as the king of creating your own pipeline. I love the king of anything, that cracks me up in a good way. So you took a day job, you left consulting and then started to work for a company. Can you talk a little bit about what drove your decision to do that? 

David Strausser Yeah, it really came down to being burnt out. It’s a funny story actually. One of my clients who ended up becoming personal friends of mine, he was launching a side business, a dream that he had. I was working on it as a project manager, it was a U.S. based job. It was one of those things that I did for a friend of a friend.

After six months of working with this guy, he was pretty much like, “Dude, you’re killing yourself.” You’re so amazing, you’re so talented, trust me, come work where I work. You’re going to see that your whole world will change. You’ll get out of that daily grind, it will allow you to keep being an entrepreneur and making money, a lot easier. You’ll have a little bit more security than just doing the 80 to 90 hour weeks that you’re doing now between trying to find more business and completing all this project work.

That’s what sold me onto giving up the consulting business and then moving on to working full time with Vision 33. 

Samantha Hartley Amazing. 

David Strausser Honestly, I love getting sales. There is nothing better than getting a sale. It gives me goosebumps, it makes the hair on my arms stand up whether it’s me or whether it’s one of my sales reps, whether it’s a big deal or a small deal, it excites me. But I didn’t feel fulfilled as a sales rep because I had so much more potential. I had the ability to manage others, drive the sales team, and negotiate other things. 

Samantha Hartley Because you’ve been an entrepreneur.

David Strausser That’s where that promotion to being a general manager for the Northeast and the East Coast really allowed me to utilize all of my skills. 

Samantha Hartley Well, I think that also speaks to you finding a really good company that knows how to treat you well and elevate you with opportunities. I think it’s a really nice match for your skill set. I do acknowledge that some of my listeners are going to hear this and think, “Oh, maybe a better thing for me should be to go and get a day job.” And I think it’s absolutely critical that they hear me say, “If you feel that way and you can find a situation like David has found, then by all means, do go get that day job.”

To me, consulting has got to be the most right thing for you. You’ve also said something that I think is really critical, our work as consultants has to be about a nice balance between doing the selling, doing the fulfillment, running the business and all of those pieces. So if that starts to wear you out, it is by no means giving up, or selling out. There’s literally no judgment for anybody who goes and takes a day job for me. 

I think you have to follow your heart on these things, and you have to choose fulfillment at the end of the day. So I love that. I do want to get back to the work that you’re doing. You are in that role still creating your own pipeline. So how are you doing that in this role at a company? Then how is that similar to and different from what you were doing as a consultant? 

David Strausser When I was talking about doing the shows, a lot of that was with Vision 33. It’s basically continuing that after building the pipeline, building the networks, finding the organizations where our prospects can be.

For example, we were just at the New Jersey CPA Expo because I sell accounting software. There’s a lot of people out there that either can partner with us or could be a potential client for us. Put yourself in the places where you can maximize your success. You have to remember your time is precious. You can only be at one place at one time and you’ve got to make sure that you’re doing what is the best use of your time. 

Samantha Hartley It’s a visibility strategy, I really love that you’re bringing that up. We have to go where they are. People who watch this show know I’m bringing this up constantly. You have to go where your audience is. We can’t always expect them to track us down.

I also wanted to talk about what you are doing as an employee of a company, you have a really powerful personal brand that you have built and are continuing to build. I also want to say this because I know if anybody does, for example, decide that they want to take a day job, never let go of your personal brand and build it well. Can you talk a little bit about how you’ve built it and how you negotiated that? Or did you need to negotiate that with your employer? 

David Strausser It’s a little bit of a struggle. They have nobody, for example, that does podcast interviews except for me. Well, we have Carl Lewis, he does the official Vision 33 Podcast every now and then. But mostly it’s me out there being the face. It came down to, “Don’t do anything controversial.” So far I’ve kept myself clean, I have not gotten canceled. 

Building my personal brand, whether it’s my domain, at DavidStrausser.com, or whether it’s my professional image, that is one thing that I will never give up. If I was asked or forced to give it up, that’s where I wouldn’t be with the company that I am today. They have to think about it this way too, it’s a win-win for them. The bigger that I build my own brand, the company is following behind on my coattails.

Sometimes it’s reversed, you’re with a big company and you’re riding the coattails of your company. It’s usually a win-win for both parties. As long as you’re doing something that is positive, not negative. Even when it’s negative, we’ve all heard the cliche that no press is bad press. So it really just depends on what gets that attention. 

Samantha Hartley There is also the portability of that brand. Should you one day decide to go somewhere else, and I think every good business knows that there is the risk of having a prominent employee. I’ve seen this a lot on LinkedIn, where you have somebody who builds a prominent brand as part of a different company, and then they leave that company and go somewhere else. Your personal brand is an asset that you own. Invest in it. 

David Strausser Absolutely, invest in it. The company has got to be willing to take that risk. If they’re good to you, if they’re treating you well, then you’re probably not going to leave no matter how big your brand gets. Unless Spotify offers you a $100 million exclusive deal, you’re probably going to stick around with them. 

Samantha Hartley Now we know your price. 

David Strausser A hundred million, that’s the price tag I have. 

Samantha Hartley All right, you heard that Spotify. I would love to transition to talking about your podcast because you also do a video podcast and you have that on YouTube. Then another thing we have in common is that we are pandemic babies. You also started the podcast during the pandemic with all that good at home time. So how did you come up with the name and what’s the theme and focus of it? 

David Strausser I came up with Shark Bite Biz, believe it or not back in 2015, and it took me five years to actually launch a podcast. I always wanted to do the podcast. I had the equipment for the podcast, but I decided again, when we just talked about better use of your time, I felt that podcasting wasn’t there yet and my time was better used in live events. So I went the networking type route and put my energy and focus there.

Then COVID happened and I launched the podcast. With the name, a lot of people think it’s like Shark Tank, but it has nothing to do with Shark Tank. Not trying to ride off that at all. When I think of business, especially sales reps or business owners that are in the hustle. They’re in the grit of just trying to succeed. I see those people as sharks and it’s kind of like, ‘Bite First or Get Bitten.’ That’s the attitude I took with the podcast name, and that’s what the show’s about.

It’s got three fundamental factors, one is that we talk about personal growth. A lot of people that come on the show do career transformations, like they did something for 20 years and then don’t like it anymore. One was a funeral director that ended up being a health and fitness coach. 

Samantha Hartley Wow

David Strausser There’s pretty crazy stuff 

Samantha Hartley Death gives you a new perspective on life! 

David Strausser Right! There’s a lot of career transformation, personal growth type stuff that comes out of it.

Then there’s the professional growth as far as maturing, a lot of people that listen to the show are young executives or independent consultants. By young executives, I don’t necessarily mean age wise. I mean younger in their careers of being an executive or manager. They’re looking for more professional advice from some of the top CEOs out there that may or may not be in their industry. So we focus around professional growth. Then lastly, we focus around business growth.

Everybody at the end of the day, if you’re listening to my show, you’re going to want to grow your business no matter if it’s your own business or whether you’re manager of a business, or just a sales rep at a business, you’re trying to figure out how to grow. So to sum the show up, it’s a show about growth. 

Samantha Hartley Love it, love it, as you know. Over 160, almost 170 episodes, what have you learned over that time about growth? 

David Strausser Well, I’ve learned so much about growth. 

Samantha Hartley While you’re thinking I’d love to just point out that you have business owners, you have rock stars, and such a variety of businesses. You had Soledad O’Brien and such a variety of people on it. So what does that mean? 

David Strausser Evan Stone, the CEO of Recruiter.com, for example, was pretty solid when he was on the show. You can watch this show and he said, “Come fall, the great resignation will end, that’s what all of our data says.” This was well over six months ago, and he’s a CNBC jobs recruiter.

It was kind of crazy, but I think that’s probably one of the biggest trends and it’s not just because I am in this industry. It’s really just trusting the data, addressing the data and being able to turn data into business intelligence. That’s one of the biggest things that I’ve learned because a lot of these owners, it comes down to them understanding their data to be able to make the right decisions. Just as Evan was able to make his prediction about the great resignation ending, it was because he was able to interpret the data pretty critically. 

Samantha Hartley There’s been so much dramatic change in how we treat people and how people expect to be treated and things like that. As that kind of arched over the two years that you and I have been recording, what other kinds of themes do you see emerging from there? 

David Strausser I think remote work is here to stay. Even when I talked about it with Soledad O’Brien, for example, since you’ve mentioned her, we had a discussion about that. For working professionals, if you’re being hired by a company as a business professional, whether you’re an accountant, whether you’re a sales rep, unless you physically have to be onsite doing certain things, if it’s work that you’re able to complete from your home office it’s not going to be a 9 to 5 job.

The days of 9 to 5 jobs are slowly dwindling away. It’s going to become much more task oriented, that’s the biggest trend that I’ve seen. That’s one of the big things that a lot of people keep talking about. If you’re completing all your work and you can get it done in 6 or 7 hours, I don’t care. You did all the work you had, I’m not going to make you sit an extra hour or two at your desk just for the fun of it. People are more efficient, it really just comes down to the quality of work that people are putting out. 

Samantha Hartley Yeah, I think it just speaks to a kind of an authenticity that came in with Millennials and Gen Z.

David Strausser And Xenials

Samantha Hartley And Xenials!

Now, I remember saying, if I can get this done in less time, what does it matter how long I’m here? I also had enlightened bosses who would say to me, I don’t really care if you’re here as long as you get the work done, we don’t care. I think having that idea spread, it just seems more authentic, real and sensible. So I really cheer for that, but I do feel that old guard resisting and wondering, where does that end? So I’m really curious to see. 

David Strausser It all depends on what ends up happening, it’s battling out right now in front of our eyes with big tech. I know a lot of small businesses, especially some that are our customers, that they’ve gone completely remote. They’re like, “Oh, we’re just going to get a virtual office, why are we spending so much for an office building?” Everybody can work remotely and that’s all that they do for their office employees. 

Look, there’s certain work that you have to do between nine and five. Between nine and five, prioritize those, get those items done. 

Samantha Hartley Right. You talk to some people and they think it’s crazy and to others, it’s like, this is how I’ve been working for the last 20 years. 

David Strausser This is how I’ve been working, except for my younger days having to work in some retail. For the most part since maybe 2007ish, I think it was around there when I started with the company called System Circulation Partners, it was the start of my work from home, independent consultant type career. Since then I’ve always known that I didn’t want to be in an office.

Even at my current company for three months, I had to go in once a week when I was onboarding. After that they trusted me. Then when you turn into their top sales rep they’re like show up when you need to, and that turned into barely ever for me. That’s what their mentality is because again, task orientated, I’ve done sales demos while on layovers in Columbia, while I’m on vacation. I have a lot of stories like that because I come from the mentality, ‘Sales Never Sleep.’ Doesn’t matter if I’m on vacation. 

That’s people going above and beyond, and if you’re able to do that, that’s where I think you deserve, you own the right to have that flexibility. If your company doesn’t allow you to, then maybe that’s not the right fit for you. 

Samantha Hartley For real, it’s a great story of dedication. Where can our listeners go and learn more about you? 

David Strausser Multiple places. The easiest place is you can go to SharkBiteBiz.com. That is where you can find out all the links for the show. Or search for SharkBite Biz on YouTube. That’s probably the easiest to view all of the episodes. You can find out about me personally at DavidStruasser.com. Then lastly I would say that if you’re interested in ERP, accounting, software, stuff like that, you should go to Vision33.com, or reach out to me at David.Struasser@Vision33.com and we’ll make sure that we take good care of you. 

Samantha Hartley Perfect, all of that will be in the show notes in case you didn’t get a chance to write it down. David, it has been such a pleasure to talk with you. I really appreciate the perspective that you bring on building your own pipeline and how you model your dedication to the craft of sales and the art of sales, which I also am such a big fan of.

Thank you so much for being with us, and to our listeners, I want to wish you a Profitable and Joyful Consulting Business. 

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