Building a Strong Business with Good Data

In this episode of The Faces of Business, Dennis Riley, Founder & CEO of Goals To Results, shares strategies to leverage data and analytics for smarter business decisions to build stronger businesses.

In this episode of The Faces of Business, Dennis Riley, Founder & CEO of Goals To Results, shares strategies to leverage data and analytics for smarter business decisions to build stronger businesses.

Dennis is an accomplished entrepreneur and advisor with over 25 years of experience driving growth through data-driven insights. He has helped leading companies across industries optimize performance and outpace competitors by harnessing the power of analytics.

At Goals To Results, Dennis helps executives gain actionable insights from their data and implement simple systems. His data-first approach enables leaders to spot trends, identify growth opportunities, and make informed strategic decisions.

Download our free business valuation guide here to understand more about business valuations and view our business valuation FAQs to answer the most common valuation questions.

Get ready to learn how to turn effective data and systems into a competitive advantage.

Damon warmly welcomes Dennis to his show. Since Dennis has been Damon’s guest earlier, the host requests the guest to “refresh us a bit and how you got into helping people in businesses.”

Dennis shares that he began a custom software business in 1994, which grew to a team of 10 over 20 years. He found himself interacting with numerous business owners and realized the importance of strategy. As someone with a data background, he developed a passion for discussing data, an often neglected aspect of business. He recognized the need for businesses to address this critical “monster in the back” and started a second venture focused on strategy.

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At Damon’s request, Dennis compares today’s business environment to ten years ago. There has been significant progress in data management for small businesses. In the past, they had to connect data from various platforms manually. Now, affordable software solutions can seamlessly integrate data. This integration eliminates the need for a single platform, allowing multiple platforms to be interconnected through tools like Zap. Today, website interactions can automatically trigger actions in a CRM, and data can smoothly flow to platforms like QuickBooks for quote generation.

Dennis reveals the power of data integration, where business owners can gather data from various sources like Google Sheets and consolidate it into a single dashboard for comprehensive insights. Moreover, the interconnected nature of these tools allows for easy replacement with better options, ensuring business owners always have access to the most efficient tools.

Damon asks Dennis about today’s concerns of business owners while interacting with clients.

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Dennis addresses concerns related to the coming year, i.e., 2024 and how it might affect businesses. He advises that businesses should focus on strengthening their foundations to weather any potential challenges. In his view, a strong business is like a robust sailboat that can handle waves and storms without capsizing. He uses the boat analogy to stress the need for businesses to update their systems as they grow.

Damon inquires about the common reluctance of business owners to revisit or update their systems, even when they’ve experienced a sense of relief after initially implementing a system like a CRM or QuickBooks.

In response, Dennis mentions that if business owners are struggling to back up their decisions with data. It indicates a potential problem. There is a need to have a comprehensive dashboard with various key performance indicators, not just revenue.

Similarly, Dennis advocates knowing the close rate to understand how many people we need to interact with to achieve sales goals. Analyzing data to identify patterns is important. By pinpointing the specific points in the process where issues occur, business owners can make targeted improvements.

The guest suggests looking beyond revenue as the sole indicator of business success. He asks businesses to focus on leading and lagging indicators, with revenue being the last to fall. By addressing issues at the earlier stages of the process, we can avoid problems and proactively manage rapid growth if it occurs.

Moreover, nurturing relationships with past clients and managing the complete pipeline is advisable. He uses the analogy of an air conditioner and an open window to explain that we should keep past clients engaged and “close the window” to ensure they remain in the loop.

Dennis describes an engaging way to market the business. Rather than relying on the “game of telephone” where the message may get diluted, Dennis recommends sending a link to a past customer who can refer others. This way, the message is in the referrer’s own words.

As the Livestream progresses, Dennis underscores the value of personalized communication via email. He believes it can lead to better engagement than generic newsletters or messages. By tailoring video messages to the specific needs of each customer, we can achieve better results and customer satisfaction.

Damon turns the course of the show to understand the evolution of CRMs. In the guest’s view, CRMs are like cars: the more luxurious, the more the features. The low-cost CRMs may have operational limitations.

Dennis explains that a CRM can be the central hub for communication and data management. It allows businesses to interact with clients, manage leads, and seamlessly integrate with various tools and services, all while staying compliant with regulations like HIPAA.

While talking about the CRM tool, Dennis opines that it alone isn’t the solution or mere repository. It is about the holistic process of connecting systems and ensuring interconnections between tools. Moreover, CRMs enable businesses to communicate effectively with their customers.

“That’s really cool,” remarks Damon.

Dennis discusses the effective collection and analysis of data. He believes that data always contains patterns, some of which may appear all of a sudden. In contrast, others might require more data to reveal themselves. By examining the data, businesses can identify patterns like declining interest in a specific service. This insight can prompt them to either improve the way they present the service or replace it with something more aligned with their customers’ needs.

Likewise, as a business owner or service provider, it’s essential to dig deeper to uncover the gaps in their data and goals. It is a good strategy to use CRM with four distinct pipelines: for leads, active clients, past clients, and missed leads.

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Dennis Riley, Damon Pistulka

Damon Pistulka 00:03
All right, everyone, welcome once again to the faces of business. I’m your host, Damon Pistulka. And I am so excited because I we’re starting late today, because our guests today, Dennis Riley and I, we started going before we got on and just got carried away. But we got Dennis Reilly here, the founder and owner of goals to results. We’re talking about bills, building a strong business with good data. Dennis, thanks for being here today. Man.

Dennis Riley 00:29
I love being here. You know, I love it. It’s great to seeing you again. And I’m looking forward to this.

Damon Pistulka 00:34
Yeah, it’s gonna be fun, man, because we got going on this. Let’s just start back a little ways, because I think your your your background is a good place. Let’s just refresh us a bit and how you got into helping people in businesses and building good businesses today?

Dennis Riley 00:52
Sure, well, in then 94, a long time ago, I started a software business, a custom software business. And we grew strong to 10 people strong, and we were going at it for 20 years. And during that time of building all the software, I started to be in front of a lot of business owners. And I said, I started asking the questions. I say, Hey, what’s your strategy? What’s this? What’s that? And I said, You know what, I need two businesses here. So I built another one that was purely strategy. And I have my I have a data background. And pretty much I love talking about data where everyone else does it. So it’s great, because it’s that’s the monster in the back that no one takes care of. Like, I’ll take this.

Damon Pistulka 01:32
Yeah. That’s cool. That’s cool. So what as you as you’ve been, you’ve been working with software systems, and for a while, more than a couple days. Yeah. So what are some of the really cool things you see about systems today compared to system say, 10 years ago?

Dennis Riley 01:52
Oh, wow. It’s, it’s really, it’s ridiculous. It’s a truth. Because a lot of the you know, we all have different platforms that you get data from, okay, especially small business owners nowadays, they log into 567 areas, just to give a piece of data here piece of data there, five or six, seven years ago, you were on your own connecting those two together, and how you’re going to do it. Now. We have software that can connect all this data so that you’re not double entering stuff, you’re feeding some data with some old data. And what happens is now you don’t need one system, one platform to rely on, you can have four or 567 platforms, they all connected together, and then you show like, a CRM can connect them all together, and you can show some data and how it’s going. And so now what happens is the small business owner sees almost like a dashboard of everything that’s going on, and doesn’t maybe have to log into those seven different areas. Wow. And you could not do that five, if you Yeah, I’m sorry, you could do that 567 years ago, but you’re talking a lot of money to do all Yeah, because nowadays, it’s all you know, there’s all different software that you can do. And I love doing the software part that I just say, okay, you know, zappy, stuff like that zaps. I can go in and say, log into this platform, log into this platform, put it together, when something happens in this platform, bring the data over to this platform, just like that. Yeah, for example, someone logs in in your goes six goes to your website fills out something says Then it goes right to your CRM and spews out some email that says, hey, thank you for coming to my website. You know, or, and when you’re going down the process of something in your lead process. And you need to give a quote, and you have all your quotes on QuickBooks, we take that data from the CRM, move it over to QuickBooks, it’s already entered, then you go into QuickBooks and make your estimate and send it out.

Damon Pistulka 03:55
Yeah, that’s cool.

Dennis Riley 03:56
You couldn’t do that a while ago. Now? You can?

Damon Pistulka 03:59
Yeah. Yeah. It’s a great though how the systems you’re right. The connections between the systems have gotten so much easier. I know, I’ve got one client, and we’re starting to use the Power BI and using that across several systems. Yeah. And that’s really interesting, because though the way some is native, like you can go native into QuickBooks Online or something like that with it or other applications. You can also take CSVs or other or even read website data now with it and, and things and really come up with some really incredible dashboards I look at I’m getting done. I’m like, Holy heck, you can grow out of that.

Dennis Riley 04:37
One of the business owners say, okay, you know what, hey, I couldn’t find this out. So I did something. In Google Sheets. We take that data from Google Sheets, we put somewhere else on a dashboard, they can see everything at the same time. Yeah, you know, it’s like it is amazing what can be done. And the good news is, all these tools have have their bread and butter that’s really good. And they might do other stuff, but it’s like, you know, I always tell people when you go into a restaurant like it’s your favorite Italian food, you’re not going in there. And you’re ordering like something else like, you know, a steak or something because now you go into a steak house. But here is that you can go to all have have the tool for this have the tools to this. And then he connects them together. Here’s the great part. Since they’re all connected together. What if there’s a better tool that comes along? We just replaced that tool?

Damon Pistulka 05:26
Oh, that’s a great point. Yeah. That makes your system upgrades a lot of changes a lot better, because you know, a lot of companies start out so they’ll start out with a super simple CRM might even be using the spreadsheet, right, let’s just use an example. Well, now it’s time to go into something else. I’m going to use HubSpot. I’m gonna use whatever they want in the you know what I’m that you know. And then you can hook that in, just drop that right in and go okay, that’s what we’re gonna do. It’s just hooked to everything else like it is.

Dennis Riley 05:54
Yeah. And then if something better comes along, which it will, yeah, okay, now, you’re not tied into this one system going? How do I replace everything? Well, like, Oh, okay. You like you like another accounting software? Okay, boom, we’ll put that in. Everything’s all still connected? Who

Damon Pistulka 06:14
got my head run in? Here? You go. When you’re out and about with clients today? What are people in business worried about?

Dennis Riley 06:21
Oh, great question. Well, the uncertainty of 2024, what’s going to happen 2024, how’s my business going to take care of that. And I always say to people look, you get your business as strong as possible. It’s like, and I, what I do is I compare it to a sailboat, you know, get the sailboat work, and don’t care about the waves in the Atlantic Ocean, whatever happens happens, don’t care if there’s a thunderstorm or big storm coming on, you know, if your boat is weak, a little bit of a wind is gonna knock it over. Or if your boat is strong, and your boat can understand, hey, it gives you like a heads up saying this is we change it. Now you’re ahead of the game, you’re in control of your business. And then when the crap hits the fan, you already don’t have to worry about your boat, you navigate around the crap. Yeah, a lot of you have maybe a competition realizes, Oh, I gotta fix my boat and worry about that other stuff, where you already have it set up and you just go around it? Yeah,

Damon Pistulka 07:23
that’s a great point. Because you when you get that boat running, you can, like you said, you can navigate around the trouble.

Dennis Riley 07:32
Yeah, and you make sure a lot of people think, you know, getting back to the boat analogy, a lot of people think hey, look, you know, I’ve been grown and grown and grown, but I have the same systems. And if I have the same systems, what happens is that, that if you have the same system, you grow and grow and grown, you’re not changing your engine. It’s like, it’s now now this big boat is this little little propeller thing going, it’s like that’s not going to steer your boat and get going, you have to change your engine with the same time as the boat. And then what happens is now it’s a really strong boat, because a lot of times when people grow and scale, they don’t bring their system backend systems along with it. And now all of a sudden, you’re piling onto something that shouldn’t be piled on.

Damon Pistulka 08:17
Yeah, that’s, that’s a great example. So what are some of that? So this is interesting when you talk about systems because when, you know, say you, you do a whatever kind of system you put it in a CRM doesn’t matter couldn’t be an ERP system could be even just installing QuickBooks for the first time. When you get done with that, it’s such a sense of relief that you’re like, Man, I never want to touch that again. And that lingers for a long time. I mean, it can linger for years and years and years and decades even. Yeah. So what are some of the things that you really should be looking for in these systems to go? Maybe we should consider this even though it’s gonna be painful?

Dennis Riley 08:58
Well, a lot of times it’s kind of fine with the business owner, you know, you know how it is right now people you know, things are just coming out and left and right, left or right, if they’re running around the headscarf and they’re, they can’t have the data to back things up or they don’t know what the data is to back it up. That’s sign number one if you don’t know your data that either a you’re not doing your job right which I doubt you are doing you’re doing it fine. It’s the b is your system is not spitting out the stuff so what we said before about like a dashboard you should have like a dashboard and know your numbers you know and then not just and people think no numbers of course I know my revenue of course I know this No, no, no, no, that’s the last domino to fall way back at the beginning. How is your pipeline How is your pipeline increase decrease how’s your what’s what’s the cost the the close rate of your of your of your leads, you know if you don’t know that stuff, because if you don’t know your close rate, you’ll know how many people you have to be in front of to close. But if you know hey, look, yeah, my clothes It’s been 60 70%. And you want like, you know, basically 80% of that, you know how many people you gotta get in front of? Most people don’t know that. So they’re either too many people are there in front of or not enough? And if they don’t know that number, they can’t predict how many people or if your Salesforce How is your Salesforce doing? You know, is your Salesforce doing the right leads per day? You know, because you got to fill the pipeline. If you have that pipeline filled, then you want to make sure that you close the the ones and then if here’s the thing that I tried to the ones that didn’t close, at what step of the process, was it not working? And nine times I attend, if you have the data, you see a pattern. And you see, look, when I send out this proposal, it’s always happens. Well, maybe you’re not doing the right proposal, or maybe you know, you so overwhelming people that you know, maybe it needs to be broken up, or maybe needs to be a different format. But if you always stop at one thing, and you see a lot of ones that fail at that one thing, you can now go into that one thing and try to fix it. Whereas if you just say, oh, you know, I got close rate of it, you know, 40%? So for our six, I get where the six, fail? Oh, I don’t know, they just weren’t right for me. No, they, some of them were probably not right for you. But some of them you dropped the ball. Yeah. And if you can know exactly the part that you drop the ball, boom, you repair that you’re not dropping the ball anymore. Guess what, now you close by automatically goes up because you fix the system process, whatever you want to call it.

Damon Pistulka 11:38
Yeah, that’s incredible. Because that data will will show you where your problems are.

Dennis Riley 11:45
Yeah. And that’s it. So if you didn’t know about that, I mean, so it’s sometimes I say to people look at knowing your data is like knowing the answers to a test going into take the test. You know, if I knew, hey, look at my close way is this and I know that step five, I always fail or where all my things happen is that step. Let’s fix that step.

Damon Pistulka 12:08
Yeah. Yeah. And without it, you just know that you’re, you’re not closing as many deals

Dennis Riley 12:14
exactly be. Put your finger on it. Yeah, do that. I see people coming in, but I don’t see them all. crossing the finish line. Okay, why? And it could be because your message doesn’t work at the beginning. And you’re, you’re gathering the wrong people to go into the pipeline and begin with me, if you have a close, if you have a close rate of 10%. What does that mean? That could be a you really don’t know your process or be you’re, you’re getting the wrong people into your pipeline. If you’re getting the wrong people into your pipeline, there’s something else that needs to be done. And all of that is just looking at the numbers and figuring out what’s going on and seeing you know, a lot of people don’t want to look at the numbers because they don’t want to see the bad stuff. And it’s like, and like I said it, I get that getting better bone algae takes the boat so that you can sail in any types of seas. And therefore, if you know like I say we all know what 2024 is going to be maybe it is going to be a bad recession. But if it is, and your boat is straw, while people are zigging and zagging. You know, a lot of the a lot of the companies in the past, the ones that made it big were when there was a down economy, they took advantage of it, it took advantage of it because they knew their numbers and they knew how strong the boat was. And that’s why I tell people know that first don’t care about what you’re going to do first, you know on the exterior care about how you’re going to get your boat stop.

Damon Pistulka 13:46
Yeah, yeah. So we’re going back to this again. So you’re saying if your data if you’re not getting information, to help you make those decisions to spot the problems and really see them before they become a huge problem. That’s where you might want to be looking at your systems. And yeah,

Dennis Riley 14:04
and it’s like I always talk about you know, you know about this leading lag indicators you know, everyone looks at the last domino the fall revenue. And it’s like if you’re looking at revenue, you’re seeing that last domino fall you go back to the first a second Domino and you don’t have to see that last domino fall. You know, or in in we talked about it being bad have the exact opposite is to do if something is going through the roof and you can’t control it, you know, that you’re you know, you can all these clients can all these things, but your system can handle it, or your process can handle it, your people, whatever can’t handle it. That’s that’s just as big of a problem as the lack of and so if you are in control of either way, you’re gonna be able to move in that direction. Because I love working with grown businesses, because they you know, they already had the pipe and they had the things coming in coming in. But what we were talking about before, that’s only one part of the pipeline. What do you do with your past clients? What do you do, there’s lots of things you can do with your past clients, you have to keep front and center with them. Yeah, and to me, that is gravy, because as a business owner, because you got things coming, I always say to people, it’s like, on a hot hot day, you have a window air conditioner on, and then you have a window open on the other side. It’s like, the leads are coming in, and you’re getting them in, you’re getting as soon as they’re past client up, close the window. And I always say, shut the damn window over here, we’re gonna keep those clients in the loop. Yeah, that’s

Damon Pistulka 15:32
the you know, in E commerce world, people talk about customer acquisition costs and all that. But really, if you can get that lifetime value of your customer up, you don’t have to pay anything to get them again. The second thing is,

Dennis Riley 15:46
it’s not just the customer, it’s who the customer knows, you got to make sure that not only Hey, can you do more? Can you do more? It’s like, who do you know, who do you know, and like, we have things right now. And you talk about different tools. We have a CRM right now that after the after, what soon as the client process is done, a link goes out to the, to the to the Google reviews, and just a click on this link, and boom, visual review. And there it goes purple on that side of things. So you got the reward of people saying singing your praise, but at the same time, now you say, hey, who else do you know? Or does anyone else who can help you with this? Anyone else that is because usually, especially with your clients, birds of a feather flock together. So it’s like, if you you’re not the only one in that area that has this issue. I’m sure there’s someone else here that you know. And a lot. And here’s the thing that usually happens, everyone knows about referrals. So you know, once you get a referral partner, it’s great. But think about what usually happens when referral, you tell you say, hey, look, Dennis did a fantastic job on my system, you got to do this, but you go to someone else, and someone else says you got to talk to Dennis, it’s like the game of telephone. By time you get to that fourth or fifth one, it might not be the same message that you want to give out. So instead of saying, Hey, tell us about say, look at can you send this to someone. And that that’s so it’s in your voice. That’s it. And then what happens is that little small blurb goes out to someone. And then when they click on that, you have a page on your website that has a video of you talking about you talking about how their issues, you can help their issues. And if you can, here’s a form below, fill it out, whatever. But now you got more engagement in these people. And it’s not just the game of telephone anymore.

Damon Pistulka 17:40
That’s cool. That’s cool.

Dennis Riley 17:43
That’s it systems in place, that as the owner, once you put the system in place, you just have people monitoring it, and but you don’t, but you’re gonna get results out of it. And that you’re not going, you know, because I said, you know, when I talk to people, my cave, you talk to your clients, past clients later they go, I’m just too busy I do that’s coming in, and I don’t have time to talk to them. I’m like, Well, why don’t we set up a system that you can get in front of all these people? Well, how do you do that, and I start going through it and you don’t have to do a thing. We’re going to use your voice either words or video. But that’s it, we’re gonna put it into a system that has different steps. And we can have different things like hey, look, go here. If they clicked on this one message, cook well, if they clicked on this, another message could go out all of that done behind the scenes, and you don’t have to worry about it. Because people say some people say, Well, I have a newsletter. Well, what’s your newsletter? Well, I tell the whole everyone about all the stuff that’s happened last month, I’m like, Well, what above this person is in this service this person? Why are you telling them about the service, they just want you. So what you do is you say the people who’ve had this service is going to get this message telling about all the other services that people this service is going to be this much is not the service that they’ve already had. Because what happens is nine times out of 10, when you see an email, even if it’s from someone else, and it’s like you you’ve already done business with them, it’s like oh, here’s a here’s a here’s this, and you don’t read it or you skim Yeah, the first thing is something that you already know. Well imagine if the first thing is something that you never heard of before. Now you’re reading it now you might click into it. Now you might know of someone, you might say, I didn’t know the dentist did that. And all of a sudden, it’s a totally different message, a totally different response to that message than just a generic thing that everyone gets.

Damon Pistulka 19:39
Yeah, that’s cool. That’s cool that that segmentation understanding who gets what and being being ready to give people the right information that they need to really help them to really help them as cool. So what are some of the things that as you’re doing this, your clients see? I mean, what are some of the things that they They’re talking about as they get their systems in place and things start to start to work. What are some of the things that they they say? Well, I

Dennis Riley 20:08
love this one line that I’ve read somewhere that I absolutely love. It says that systems run business, people run systems. And what usually happens is people hire for a person, and then build a system around that person or talent, then that talent leaves and the whole system goes out the door. Ah, whereas if you had a system that you know, that works, when the person comes in running, the system will operate the system, they can now just go within the framework of whatever you need to do. And then any extra talent that they have, they can build on it. And that way, what happens it yes, sure, if that person leaves, there’s always a stumbling block because of hiring new, but you’re not starting from scratch. And so we try to put these systems in place. And then there’s one time I said to someone, I said, Look, when you when you bring a new client on, what do you do? What do you bring when you bring a new employee or contractor on? What do you do I have all these steps into, well, how come you have to do it? Because no one else does it? What I did is I said, You know what, we’re on a call right now a video call, I hit record. And I asked all these questions, they give the answers. I said, Guess what, you just did your first manual. So then when someone new comes in, instead of sitting down with them for an hour, they can say, hey, look, watch this. If you have any questions, let me know. And they’re getting the same thing. They’re taking the notes and all that stuff, not what you might be saying that day on Tuesday. And maybe you know, you’re rushing around, you didn’t get all the points. And then they keep coming back saying how do you do this? How you do is how you do this? If you sit here, watch this video. Yeah, and the same thing can be do can be done with clients, if the same clients have same questions, you put that in a video, and you when when you’re going through the process, you can add a link to that email it active say, hey, look, these are some of the questions that some of my other clients have. Go watch it and let me know what you think. So now, maybe that takes so again, it’s all about communication with any level of communication to way all the time, then things become so much easier. And that’s what most of the clients say they’re like, I can’t believe how simple it is. Where was I without this? You know, because because a lot of these system things are things that are done over and over and over again, it’s not the joyous part of doing things. You know, everyone likes to do strategy. Everyone likes to build things, they want to figure things out. But the same ol you know, making sure that the clients are how, yeah, you’re all that no one wants to do that. Yeah. So you have systems do it, you know, in the systems do that stuff. And then all of a sudden, your plate is now maybe less this fill that was and obviously, you know, think about from a from a business standpoint, we always have a full plate. So when there’s something that’s coming off, something else goes on, but now it’s not overflowing.

Damon Pistulka 23:14
Yeah. Or it’s more valuable work. I mean, exactly. A lot of business owners get stuck doing work that it’s not in the weed really shouldn’t be doing.

Dennis Riley 23:21
Yeah, they’re in the weeds instead of up here. They’re in the weeds.

Damon Pistulka 23:25
Yeah. Because that’s a huge thing. Those systems are massive for that kind of stuff to be able to go okay, now I’m not I’m not developing this. And redoing this all the time. It’s it happens to happens at a high quality level. And I can then, like you said earlier, I can do personal interactions with people, I can work on my business to get that other pieces of our products or services better. There’s just so much more. Yeah. So super cool. So as you’re going through this, what are some of the features in the CRMs now that you’re you’re seeing that are really pretty phenomenal compared to what they were just a couple of years ago? Because I mean, a lot of people have invested in CRMs a lot of people put them in, but what are some of the things, you know, um, with the cookies leaving here a while ago, and you know, just just so many different things happening? What are some of the things that you’re seeing that are pretty innovative and CRMs that are really helping people out now?

Dennis Riley 24:27
Well, you know, it’s interesting CRMs I tell people CRM is like buying a car. Alright, there’s so many cars out there. There’s also many models and where you go, you know, the beginner cars, the ones that are just purely on price, but you go only a certain amount, and then it’s like, okay, I don’t feel I want to drive a little bit better. Yeah, maybe go to the middle. And then you know, maybe maybe things are going great. You go to a luxury car or you go an SUV. That’s the same thing with a CRM is that a lot of times like you if you could, hey, look, I’m just going to get some for you know, 20 bucks a month or whatever. Guess what, that’s what you’re going to get 20 bucks a month, and you’re going to hit a ceiling all the time that if you try and do that one extra thing, it’s not going to work. Okay? Like I said, I don’t, I don’t need to have my CRM do the world, but I need my CRM to talk to the world. And so if my CRM, can I even handle that, or if I have to hire someone every day to build that, yeah, and guess what, that $20 That you’re doing a month, and you’re paying someone else X amount to build it, and all the stuff, all the pain in the neck stuff that’s happening, and you’re being taken away from something because you can’t build something that’s like, that’s just money being flown out the window. Whereas if you say, Okay, I’m gonna go to X amount per month, or I’m going to have someone like myself, just run the darn thing. What happens is now, you get, that’s what I like about the CRM is now there is so many things that you can do with it, that can connect to the world. You know, here’s a, here’s a perfect example. In the wellness community, the wellness community has their own hipper, hipper, you know, forms and their HIPAA stuff that, yeah, you have to use this system, it’s great, that system is locked down shot, and no one’s gonna get at it. And then it’s only client information, it’s great. But most of those systems can’t do all these other things. Okay. And so what I say what I do is I can be proud, for example, my client that I was just working with today, in fact, I asked her, I said, Look, I said, you know, this system, this HIPAA system that you do, I mean, does someone log in and put in the information. And she says, you know, we use you do, we send a link to the client, and they open up a record in that system, I’m like, Oh, my God, that’s perfect, because then I can use a CRM to do all the lead process. And when they become a client, we send out a link to that co2 That that, you know, HIPAA workplace, and the good news is, is that we don’t have to move the data back and forth, because everything started here. So I have all the data ID, I don’t need someone’s social security number, I just need their first name, last name, and email address, and maybe phone number and all the stuff that they use to get our service and stuff like that. But it’s like all this other HIPAA compliance stuff, I don’t need that. But if it started, here, you have all the information, you need to feed a lot of the other systems that do not have HIPPA regulations in it, that you can send stuff. So for example, if it starts at the CRM, and you have a low form that’s on the website, someone goes to your website fills it out, that goes to your CRM, it kicks off a couple of emails, you start to get into process, you bring your calendar into the system, and then all of a sudden, Calendly or whatever the case may be, does their gets all the everything ready to go. And then it goes out to here. And then all of a sudden, now you know, you’re ready to do an estimate, send that out to QuickBooks, say and then everything is that that CRM level, and I just laid on top of everything. And then that’s how things can be can be communicated, and that it doesn’t even touch the HIPAA stuff. And so now the the wellness people love it, because they’re all compliant. And they get to have communication with all their clients, all their business referrals, and any of the tools that they need.

Damon Pistulka 28:25
Yeah, that’s super cool. Super cool. Well, and it shows what you’re talking about there, too, is the interconnectivity of systems, and how that’s helping to do it. And then the simplification of what you’re doing, like you said, you don’t have to come in and hire programmers or specialists to, to set up a lot of these these standard communication methods that you want to use. So yeah,

Dennis Riley 28:50
because here it is the and I say to people, look, I when I’m doing systems for people, CRMs I’m like, I’m like, you know, general contractor coming in. And I have all these tools that I can have, okay. But the tools, yeah, helped me build the thing. But it’s the strategy, setting up the pipeline, setting up the workflow, setting up automation, knowing what to connect here and there, all that stuff. That’s why you’re hiring someone like me, because I have the experience to do all that stuff. The tool is just a tool. I just say to you, look, you need a tool like this. So we can do all this stuff. But like I said, if tomorrow, you know, two years from now, there’s a better CRM than the one that I suggested to them. We will just use that. But we keep all the logic that’s coming into that and all the strategy and all these data points, and we keep that going. You know, and that’s why that’s why that’s most important thing is that that’s if the tool is one thing, but the tool can’t be the end all. It’s the process of doing everything. It’s the strategy of connecting everything. It’s making sure that all your systems somehow have some kind of interconnection with it. so that you can so you as a business owner can see everything from a glance and know what’s going on. And then any staff that you have underneath and all that stuff, who is using the CRM, whatever, they know what exactly what’s going on. And usually what happens when we start doing it, and we give it to the staff to use, the staff says, Can you add this? Can you add this, Hey, you know what I love if you add this, and what happens? So even even when we say we’re going to build this, it goes to this very quickly, because as people use it, like, Oh, can we do this? Oh, that’d be so much easier if we can do this. And all of a sudden, these other people who use it, stuff is coming off their plates, and now they can be more part of the strategy and help people out. And now because they’re not running off the head cut off trying to keep up with the mundane stuff to be done. Again, you keep that to two way communication going all the time. You’re golden. That’s half the battle.

Damon Pistulka 30:56
Yeah, yeah. So what are some of the systems you see today that are like critical business systems? I mean, we we everybody seems, you know, got some sort of accounting system. But beyond that, what are some of the key pieces you see in businesses now that people they don’t have they really need to get it?

Dennis Riley 31:15
Well, here’s what I here’s a CRM is one because I always asked right away, how are you collecting your data? And if they tell me spreadsheet, we’re talking, we’re talking right? It’s you know, it’s not even like Google sheets that are shared by people. It’s a spreadsheet that they have to email or so to me stuff that we used to be amazing. Think about, think about the Excel is of the world that was amazing when everything’s first started, you know, and then it took a while. And then the CRMs came on, but I don’t need your CRM, I got my Excel and then we start to, I used to do it is I used to start doing formulas in Excel and make it really good, but I’m not leaving Excel. While these the CRMs nowadays are not Yes. And I people say it’s kind of funny. They say, Well, what does the CRM stand for? And it’s like, well, it’s a customer relationship management. But it’s so much more than that. Okay, I say it’s almost like, you have to it’s not just storing your data. It’s just, what is the process that you use? What is the the, you know, to me, it’s like, you can buy a car all you want? And if you keep it in the garage, 24/7? How good is that car? Well, if you take just take that car around the block, and that’s it, how good is that car, you get a car, you want to drive it everywhere. Yeah, in order to drive it everywhere. It has to be functional, it has to, you know, all that driving from A to B to C, or the GPS and all that stuff that is in all these cars. Now. That’s how you want your CRM to be that it knows when this comes in, I do this when this comes in, I do this. And if it’s just to store data, you might as well just keep it in the garage.

Damon Pistulka 33:06
Yeah, the the automation pieces of some of this stuff to get the to get the data foreign, right is huge. That’s for sure.

Dennis Riley 33:13
Because you know, I always say, people, look, you can automate people say, Well, if it automates people just going to see my emails and think, Oh, here’s a canned response and all that stuff. And what I do is I say, You know what, we’ll do the automation, but we’ll throw in some videos, and then we’ll it will be a personal video, and all of a sudden, people step back and go, Oh, that’s the business owner. I want. That’s interesting. And you have now what’s happening is even though yes, it is an automated thing, people are looking at it more personal. And saying, Wow, that was nice that I learned so much from this. And then if that person watches a lot of that if that person clicks on something, or does this, the system can say, hey, look, this person is really interested. And I might, I might email the client and say, you know why these three people really high on that. So if I were you, I would send a personal email to each and every one of them saying how grateful you are. And if you want to do like a bond bond or something like that, that’s as a personal meaning to say, hi, Damon, how you doing? Thank you for doing that. It just raises it from here to here.

Damon Pistulka 34:14
Yeah, that’s really cool. I want to take just a minute we got Irina is here today. She’s earlier in the conversation. I was missing it. We’re going there. And then Curtis, good. CRM is the way to go. That’s for sure. And I tell you that’s the that’s the thing is is this, you go back to Excel, right? And we’re old enough that remember the days of Excel and making mail lists or whatever emerging mail, all that kind of stuff. And it’s gone so far now. Because you can like you said by getting Daymond just the information that Damon is interested in at the right time and those kinds of things that you can really do by understanding where I’m at Damien’s at and his his journey or his You know what he’s really looking for. And it so powerful because it doesn’t have to be labor intensive for you to get people what they need.

Dennis Riley 35:12
And it doesn’t have to be a perfect example is I say to people, okay, you got a newsletter? Oh, yeah, I have a newsletter. Okay, what do you say? Well, it’s just these bullets here and there and goes out to everyone. And it’s like, okay, but if you are giving this person to, if you’re talking about a service that this person already had, you’re probably not going to read that email. And the next time you get an email, they might say, Oh, I know about this again. Yeah, what you do is you say, okay, don’t you want to do a newsletter? Fine. But in conjunction to that, you say, look, these people will get this type of email, these people will get this type of so if you have, say, three services, you know, people who have service one, maybe they’re talking and maybe you send an email talking about, hey, look, do you know what? Have you heard about service two, and three? And all of a sudden, they’re like, No, I haven’t. Whereas same with two, you’re going to talk about one and three. And then all of a sudden, it there, everyone is new learning about the journey and saying, Oh, my God, I need to talk to Dennis about increasing this or doing that. And all of a sudden, that’s what I like about that, you know, we talked about, you know, going in one window and out the other. It’s like, you have so many different levels of your business in past clients, that a lot of people don’t even touch their past clients and communicate. I’m like, What are you doing? That’s a goldmine right there. a goldmine. Yeah, and the CRM stores the data. But if you don’t have the CRM, doing something with that data for past clients, past clients, they should definitely be hurt hearing from you often about a new client story that just happened or new service that just came out that maybe they weren’t aware of that they were a year ago, the last time they saw you. And all of a sudden you’re what you’re doing is you’re going oh my god, people going? I know he did that. I can look at his website. Oh, look at this is what I gotta get in touch with Dennis. I didn’t know he had that service. Or then you say who you know, that might know that. And all of a sudden, you know, that someone’s saying, Oh, you got to look at this. Dennis has a new service. Go check it out. Yeah. But the CRM always stores the data. And if that’s all you do is store data, you just missed that opportunity to go after that past data.

Damon Pistulka 37:26
Yeah, yeah. It really is. And getting down into knowing people better, and then giving them what they need.

Dennis Riley 37:34
Yeah, and it really any, it doesn’t take much to do that. If you collect the right data. See, to me data always, always has a pattern. Okay, you might not see the pattern right away, because some data needs a lot of data to generate a patent, or other data, other patterns come up instantly. So you can’t just say, Oh, this has nothing has no pattern. No, there is a pattern, you just gotta wait for it. And so what happens is, let the data tell you, Hey, look at you know what, maybe you have five services, no one cares about service. Number five, why do you have it? You know, or maybe it’s either a, no one cares about it, or B, you’re not representing it the right way. And sees you could see that there’s a downtick in service number five and go, Okay, why maybe you do a survey about service number five, hey, is anyone have any of these issues? Maybe your your audience doesn’t care about service five, because they never have that issue. But you know, what? They wish they had this issue. And all of a sudden, you can add that in, replace five with something they need off you going? Yeah. And I’ll give you example, that that that happened to me about a year or a year ago, is that I always said to people, look, here’s all your CRMs. If I were you, I would try this CRM and off they go. And I wasn’t getting the results. And people weren’t getting the results because it like you just added more things to my plate. What I said is, you know what, no, I will set up your CRM. And this is the one that I think you should do. And me and my team will set it up and do everything for you. We’re not going to allow you to do anything else. Because why would we give that to you? Because you just added more to your plate. I’m serious. People thought that that was the best thing since sliced bread. They’re like, Oh, yes. I don’t have to do my data. Yoga is set up for me. Cool. Yeah. And it was I saw the date, I saw my data and saw that nothing was about CRM and it what was going on. And I started to ask some people I said, What, you want me to do that for you? And it was like, yes. And we’ll pay you whatever. It’s like, you know, and because it was a pain point for them, because they they want they want to get out there customers as much as possible. It’s just a pain in the neck. Yeah. And once you figure that stuff out, it is a game changer.

Damon Pistulka 39:57
Yeah. No doubt. No doubt, and you get some, I mean, I’m writing tons of notes here, because you’re talking about things that we can we can do to engage with people outside. So if people are listening, and they go, okay, what are you know, I don’t really even know what I would send in a newsletter, but you just gave a whole bunch of great ideas, you know, here forward survey, what are you? What are some of the things that are pain points for you? What are some of the things that you know, there’s just so much that you can do? That’s not just spewing, hey, I sell this pen, it’s a great pen, it writes in black ink, and it will write upside down. It’s just like, who cares? I got pens, you know, tell me what I need to know. But what you’re saying is, is why this two way engagement. And you said this a long time ago is two way conversations, asking questions, taking the feedback, using that feedback to to give people more of what they want in this process that goes step by step through it, it really is a way to build relationships with people that could eventually turn into business.

Dennis Riley 41:00
And the interesting thing is with with newsletters, people go, Oh, my God, I like Mike, what about case study? What about you just talked about a client that you just had an amazing return for not because to say, Hey, look at this, but someone else might have the same issue. Look, and they say, Look, we have this problem doing X, you know, what, you know, this is how we solved it, or, you know, we changed it from here to here in three months, you know, and now they don’t, because, you know, a lot of my clients like, I cannot believe that I’m doing some of the stuff I’m doing because I never did before. And it’s like they never reached out to the people, they didn’t realize that, like you said, they figured the given the take, it is a gold mine. Your clients will tell you, you’re the good or bad way how you’re doing and what they need. You just have to open up that communication, you got to do it in a way that they don’t feel threatened. Or they don’t feel like why am I doing this for it’s like, look, what do you really need? And they’re saying, you know, I think this guy cares. And they just throw one thing out. And all of a sudden, you come back and say, Hey, thank you very much. You know what, I can help you with this, this this, if you try this and all of a sudden they go, he listened.

Damon Pistulka 42:13
The magic words or he listened, he listened.

Dennis Riley 42:16
And you reacted to what was being said for you. And a lot of it’s good. I just talked to someone. It was kind of fun. We were talking about their website, and you said, Oh, this great. What I didn’t talk about me in the first page. I’m like, that’s what you want on the first page of your website. It’s all about them. Not about you. If they want to learn about you, they’ll go to the About Us page.

Damon Pistulka 42:38
Yes. Yes. Yes. Amani started, got a few good comments here. But she she enjoys using the CRM because it helps her create connection with her clients. And that’s good. And then she talks about how opens up communication? Yeah, yeah, good stuff.

Dennis Riley 42:59
Realize it seriously. It is it they will tell you, and sometimes you don’t want to hear what they tell you. Yes. Like, there’s a lot of times it’s like, they’re looking for someone or something to help them. And it may be when you say one thing, something else triggers in them. And they say, what about this? Or oh, I wish this is probably far fetched. But can I do this? And you’re like, oh, yeah, it’s very easy to do this. You go boom, boom, boom, they’re like, huh, we gotta get in a call. Yeah, you know, a call with them. All right, or like if a client like says, you know, I’m not happy with my results. Well, what results are you looking for? All right. And then you might realize that they think they’re not looking at this result. They’re looking at this one that they want. But they’re seeing some it’s like, no, no, no, we’ll take you from here to here. Because a big gap of their data may be that they don’t see. Yeah, and if you can go in and see that gap. It’s like, Oh, here you go. You know, we’ve talked about before, what I do is I tell people in your CRM have four different pipelines, have the Lead Pipeline, have an active client pipeline, have a past client pipeline, and have a missed Lead Pipeline. And what you do is you can do different things and all for those things. It’s all communication, what I usually do is I have my lead process and my mislead process have the same exact steps. And when a lead gets stopped, it gets pushed down into the mislead at the same exact step. So now you can now have a question with them saying, What didn’t you like about this? Or, you know, maybe it wasn’t the right time? You know, Can you Can I ask you a little bit about this? What didn’t you like about this proposal that I sent? Or, you know, again, you might hate the answer that comes up? Yeah, the answer could be a difference between a closed rate of 20 versus closed rate of 80%.

Damon Pistulka 44:56

Dennis Riley 44:59
Awesome. It’s You’d have those four pipelines have different communications. You’re fixing your boat.

Damon Pistulka 45:07
Yeah. Back to the vote. Yeah, man, that’s awesome. That’s awesome. Maybe what Dennis, it’s been awesome talking today. And you know, it’s just about using this information to really help you run better businesses and the systems and how they’re really enabling small businesses to be competitive and grow and do the things and really serve people better. In the end. Just thanks so much. So if people want to get a hold of you, what’s the best way to find you?

Dennis Riley 45:38
Best way find me is go to my website goes to And look at poke around whatever you like, in wherever. And you know, just just fill out a form. Let’s have a little chat if you like what you see on the website, especially these people like I love doing my CRM, my CRM is awesome, but am I taking it to the limit I want to be taken? Do I use my CRM just to store data? If you do, you are not using it properly.

Damon Pistulka 46:05
Yeah, yeah. Good stuff. Well, Dennis, thanks so much for being here. today. I want to thanks Amani arena, Curtis and Irene excuse me, and Curtis for being here today and all of you that were listening. Just remember you can ask your questions. While we’re doing this. Our guests are happy to answer the questions. We appreciate you being here today. Even if you didn’t drop a comment. Dennis, great having you again. Love it man to hang out just for a moment and we’ll shut down here

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