e59 Dominic Rubino

59: Dominic Rubino, CEO of ProfitToolBelt.com, scaled his previous business to $120 million in sales

Dominic shares his journey from selling door-to-door as a kid to scaling a business to $120 million in sales within four years and growing a franchise from six to over 200 locations worldwide. He delves into his sales philosophy, the importance of understanding customer needs, and his unique approach to training sales teams. This episode is packed with insights for anyone looking to improve their sales skills and grow their business.

Mentions & Links

Takeaways

  • The joy of getting the first customer never goes away.
  • Understanding and addressing customer needs is crucial for business success.
  • Sales scripts should be natural and conversational, focusing on solving customer problems.
  • Data from customer feedback and market research can inform product/service development.
  • Successful business coaching is about getting clients successful.
  • Selling a franchise involves qualifying potential franchisees and demonstrating the value of the business model. Understand the customer’s needs and pain points through open-ended questions.
  • Engage with decision-makers and ensure they are present in meetings.
  • Read what your target customers read to better understand their pain points.
  • Deeply connect with your target customers to develop a strong business relationship.
  • Serve your target customers by providing solutions to their pain points.

Quotes

“I always feel like I’m getting my next first customer. I don’t think the joy of it ever goes away.”

– Dominic Rubino

“What I think is value to the client is not what the client thinks is value.”

– Dominic Rubino

“Sales is about continuous study. It really is an art.”

– Dominic Rubino

Show Transcript

Paris Vega (00:00.714)
Welcome to the First Customers Podcast. Today we have Dominic Rubino with us. He has bootstrapped a business from zero to $120 million in sales in only four years. And he’s also grown a franchise from six franchisees to over 200 around the world. So he’s the perfect guest for the First Customers Podcast as we’re trying to learn all the different ways different entrepreneurs got their first customers. So Dominic, welcome to the show.

Dominic Rubino (00:30.765)
Yeah, thank you so much for having me.

Paris Vega (00:34.123)
Thanks for making time for us. How did you get those very first customers?

Dominic Rubino (00:38.777)
You know, I was thinking about that as you were doing the intro bit there. I always feel like I’m getting my next first customer. I don’t think the joy of it ever goes away. Um, and you can tell. So I come at business ownership through sales. You know, some people come through a technical background. They are an engineer, an accountant, a lawyer. I didn’t have that. I just, I was in university for a long time, never became a doctor. Just, I was always the C student. So I always, uh, I was always kind of hustling.

I remember back in school, we, um, for a fundraiser, we had to sell licorice all sorts from door to door, you know, those little square licorice things. And so the teacher gave us all boxes on, I can’t remember the day, but just say a Friday and then Monday we came back and she’s like, you know, who sold theirs? And I sold all mine. I can take more. I know the other kids hadn’t done any, but to me it was just, I just knocked on doors and sold them. And, uh, so that would be the first time, but then, you know, I started a company. I installed Christmas lights.

And now I live in the Pacific Northwest. So you got to imagine I’m a grade 12 kid. I’ve got a Toyota pickup in my dad’s ladder and a staple gun on I’m installing electrical on Cedar shake roofs in the rain. I don’t even know how I’m alive anymore, but that’s how I started in the trades. Yeah.

Paris Vega (01:56.234)
Yeah, that’s a nice simple business though. Pretty straightforward.

Dominic Rubino (02:01.177)
Yeah, and what’s funny is it’s come around again. A lot of companies are installing Christmas lights now. It’s a thing. It’s a great add-on if you do landscaping or even painters obviously, and home services of all sorts, which I deal with every day in my trade. So it’s nice because full circle, right? Yeah.

Paris Vega (02:09.802)
OK. Yeah.

Paris Vega (02:17.462)
Yeah. Okay. So what about the company that started from zero and went to 120 million? Tell us about that company and how you got those first customers.

Dominic Rubino (02:26.681)
Yeah, so kind of a crazy story. Because when I say it started from zero, it started from less than zero. It was an Excel spreadsheet that I was putting together. And I was in partnership with my cousin, which I will never do again. We’re still cousins, but family business is not my thing. Anyways, we were selling used junk on eBay. And you gotta keep in mind, I’m old. I was selling stuff on eBay when eBay was brand new. And so what we were selling was used LED calculators.

uh, Colecovision, Atari, Intellivision, games and systems, stuff we would buy at garage sales and flea markets and then resell on eBay. And we stumbled across this little, you can call it a niche or a niche as some people say it, where we started to sell over the counter medications like skin whitening cream and the sort of things that you aspirin, but we didn’t know is that because I live in Canada, um, things in Canada are cheaper than in the States medication wise.

If a bottle of 80 aspirin here costs $24, I’m just making that number up, in the States, you gotta get a prescription and then you’re gonna pay $80 for it. So people bought from us for that reason. Anyways, I scaled that business because I knew how to script our call center. The scripting was very, very important. Actually, I’ve got some funny stories for you on that. And we were able to take a regular transaction.

And when somebody called us for a pricing thing and then turn it into a longer transaction because they had a prescription And a prescription is a pre-purchase order for at least three other refills Now i’ve got you I can add value three other times and upsell you on things that are not medication. So that’s how we did it

Paris Vega (04:08.002)
Okay. So talk a little bit about that call center script.

Dominic Rubino (04:13.697)
I’m going to tell you the funny story because you know it was a 120 seat call center. It didn’t start that way though, Paris. Not at all. It started as we had a website as you always do. Right? I know you’re a website expert. So we had a website and I had come from telecom. So I actually learned professional sales. I tried to be a realtor for a while. I did okay but I didn’t like it being a real estate agent. And then I got recruited to work for Sprint.

Paris Vega (04:15.136)
Okay.

Paris Vega (04:24.677)
Hmm.

Dominic Rubino (04:40.333)
And when I say sprint, I mean sprint head office, blue suit, white shirt, red tie. We’re basically trained like gladiators. I mean, we were in a bullpen, cubicles, everybody was fight all day long type sales. And actually, I loved it. It was just really a frat house. That’s all it was right contests and high fives and a lot of testosterone in the room. But you had to you had to run every single day and I learned a lot there.

But the other thing I learned when I was there is how to deal with call centers. So when we started this, started growing this business, I thought, well, let’s get a 1-800 number. How can that hurt? And so what happened is our phone started ringing. And as soon as we hung up one call, we’d get on with the next person. And they would say, I’ve been on hold for 10 minutes. And I thought, well, that’s weird. So we made the huge investment, Paris. We called in the phone company, which took, you know, three weeks, four weeks to get there. And they put in a four line over line.

you gotta remember this was years ago, right? And so the little red buttons that light up on the phone. So the technician goes and he plugs in and he goes, hey Dom, come on over here, let’s have a look. And he does his little programming and then all the lights lit up. And he’s like, oh, sorry, let me check something there. All the lights are lit up. He goes, what’s going on here? I’m like, I don’t know. So we started answering the phone. We couldn’t keep up. We started with a girl that we had hired as our administrator, said, do you wanna start taking calls? She did. My partner did, I did.

Paris Vega (05:42.765)
Yeah.

Dominic Rubino (06:07.001)
And then I just, I was at the point where I was hiring 10 people a week.

Paris Vega (06:11.406)
Man, that’s crazy. So how were they finding out about you? Like what was the cause of that huge influx? Okay, so was it an SEO play where you were just getting tons of rankings or an ad?

Dominic Rubino (06:12.474)
Yeah. And so it grew.

Dominic Rubino (06:16.833)
on the website. Well, you’re talking about the early days of so mail order pharmacy. Sorry. So we recreated from, at one point, you know, I’ve skipped big chunks of the story. I didn’t go from installing Christmas lights to that. I went from installing Christmas lights to trying to be a realtor. Didn’t like being a realtor got recruited to sprint corporate, right? So I was selling business accounts. Then I went and sold money for a while. I sold leasing.

Paris Vega (06:27.042)
Okay.

Paris Vega (06:33.944)
Right.

Dominic Rubino (06:46.225)
That’s funny on its own because it, so you sell money. So if somebody’s going to buy a forklift or a piece of heavy capital equipment, maybe a Baylor or crusher forklift backhoe, you want to be able to cashflow that. So it’s called off balance sheet lending. So leasing a piece of equipment, like a CNC or just some other, some equipment that you need for your company, you can pay for it, or you can get bank financing or there’s third party companies, leasing companies.

Paris Vega (06:48.342)
I don’t know, what is that? Leasing?

Paris Vega (06:53.716)
Okay.

Paris Vega (06:57.076)
Okay.

Paris Vega (07:03.03)
Okay.

Dominic Rubino (07:13.893)
that will allow you to lease that over 36 months. And at the end of the term, you either buy it out for the remaining, let’s just say $30,000, or you pay it down to zero. So it’s a way to cashflow your business. But you wanna hear the funny part of that? Sure, so the company I worked for was called Copelco, which sounds a little bit Italian because it ends in an O, but it was actually a Dutch bank called De Laga London. And this bank is so old, they used to finance the spice trade, like with wooden ships.

Paris Vega (07:35.916)
Right.

Paris Vega (07:43.363)
Go.

Dominic Rubino (07:43.769)
and Dutch guys, you know, with contracts that were like old style stuff. Anyways, you dial it forward into where we are today and they’re now the leasing earn’s called Copelco. Well, my name is Dominic Rubino. So I would call a guy say, priest, it’s dominant calling. I’m from Copelco. I understand you’re trying to buy a forklift or a piece of heavy equipment. And you go, yeah, yeah. I go, well, I’m, I’m here to help you, you know, find a way to finance that. So it’s sounds like a normal conversations, but every once in a while I get a guy on the phone who would say, hang on a sec.

You’re telling me the bank turned me down for financing. Yeah. You tell me you can get me that equipment. Yeah. But I got to deal with Dominic Robino from Copelco who says he can get me money because do you understand why I feel a little nervous here? And so I would always play it up, right? I would always play it up. I’m like, we’re gonna meet at a Starbucks. You’ll recognize me. I got no neck and one eyebrow. And they would laugh, but yeah. So I sold money. So I’ve had a sales background all throughout.

Paris Vega (08:36.717)
That’s funny.

Paris Vega (08:41.373)
So I’m going to get down into the details here of this kind of some of the tactics. So what about your website was causing all those phone calls to come in?

Dominic Rubino (08:52.113)
So I can tell you the website, although the company’s been sold a number of times and that the website just describes what it is. It’s called canadafarmacy.com. So if you wanted to buy medications from Canada and you’re in the States, and this is still a note for everybody out there, if you’re in the US, you can buy medications from Canada, as long as you go to a certified Canadian pharmacy, and you’re gonna save a ton. And the reason is simple, our economic climate is just different, our politics.

Paris Vega (08:59.735)
Okay.

Paris Vega (09:07.223)
Yeah.

Paris Vega (09:21.066)
Right. Doesn’t the Canadian taxes subsidize some of it?

Dominic Rubino (09:21.917)
I’m not even gonna talk.

So healthcare in Canada is subsidized. So the very big, here’s the high level. Let’s use aspirin again as a dumb example, right? Our government says, oh my God, everybody needs aspirin. We have to make it affordable, right? Now the sales reps at the corporate level go to the American government and say, hey, we got this medicine, it’s called aspirin. And they say, it’s very important. And the American government goes, it’s important. People will pay what it’s worth, right? And like those guys go, yeah. So that’s how you get that price difference.

Paris Vega (09:30.988)
get.

Paris Vega (09:35.951)
Yeah.

Dominic Rubino (09:52.945)
So it actually falls under medical tourism, believe it or not. And anybody who lives like in the Detroit area is nodding their head now, because they already go up to Toronto and buy their medications anyway, busloads of people do it. So we just turned that into an online thing and that’s where the phone number was.

Paris Vega (10:02.526)
Okay. Huh.

Paris Vega (10:08.134)
Okay, so people were already looking for this and you guys showed up. Okay.

Dominic Rubino (10:10.553)
Yeah, there’s an appetite for it. Yeah, it’s the same as somebody going to Mexico to buy medications, but that’s a little different. Canada’s got a different brand. Yeah, feels less risky. Yeah, and it’s legit, by the way, it is legit. It’s the same medication that you buy. Comes out of the same factory.

Paris Vega (10:15.649)
Right.

Mm-hmm feels a little risky Yeah feels less risky for sure Okay, Wow

Paris Vega (10:31.594)
And I guess that’s because after a certain amount of time, like whatever patents on the specific chemicals or whatever are done, and so anybody can make a generic version of a main brand.

Dominic Rubino (10:42.065)
Generic generics count as well, but you know, I mean, the reality is Canada is like a 10th of the size of the United States. So they’re not going to throw a factory in Winnipeg to make aspirin. They’re just not going to do it or heart medications that it gets done out of a central location and then it gets shipped to other locations. Well, they ship it to New Zealand. Those people have the same blood as us. They ship it to age. They ship it everywhere in the world out of one location, maybe a couple of locations, but it’s not a different medication.

Paris Vega (11:00.334)
scotch.

Paris Vega (11:04.118)
Mm-hmm.

Dominic Rubino (11:11.741)
It’s the same stuff. Yeah.

Paris Vega (11:15.124)
you. Okay, so that’s the one that grew from zero to 120 million over four years after granted you had a career in sales in different ways and so you were able to kind of take everything you’d learned and put it into this business to grow it relatively quickly.

Dominic Rubino (11:19.365)
That’s right.

Dominic Rubino (11:29.725)
grow it yeah and you know i looked at the data you want you want to hear a funny story about growing that company so i’m looking at reports from the call center what’s our who are who’s buying our stuff right and so i’ve got a report just a bunch of different reports who bought pet medications from us who bought um allergy medications who bought birth control they’re all just different lists to me right my cousin comes in he goes hey dom you want to go for lunch i’m like sounds like a plan

So I take the hand, the sheets that are in my hand, I just drop them on the table, out we go for lunch. Well, I come back and I sit at my desk and I’m like, hey, the list of people who buy pet medications from us a lot fell over top of the list of people who bought birth control from us a lot. And I’m like, huh, how do I script this so that when somebody calls us to buy pet medications, we say without offending them, hey, you might wanna buy some birth control.

Dominic Rubino (12:28.479)
And really what we did was something very simple. If you called in to buy pet medications, the actual script that our agent used was to say, oh, I’m sorry, I missed what you said. Was that a dog barking in the background? And then somebody would say, no, my cat just knocked something over. Oh, okay. Did you know that we sell pet medications? No, I didn’t. Interesting. And off we go.

Paris Vega (12:51.37)
Yeah. Nice. So you’re… Okay.

Dominic Rubino (12:54.253)
Yeah. And then scripting the other way too. But you got to, you got to think about the customer’s needs at all times.

Paris Vega (12:59.51)
Right. Can you get a little deeper into script writing? Because I don’t think we’ve had someone talk at length or give like really specifics on kind of that art of writing sales scripts, because I know that’s really important, especially if you’re trying to scale a team and have some tight processes and everything. So we’d love to hear kind of some insights or lessons learned about sales scripts.

Dominic Rubino (13:14.234)
It is.

Dominic Rubino (13:20.925)
Sure.

Dominic Rubino (13:24.365)
Yeah, I.

I would think, or I do think, the hardest part of script writing is not the script writing. It’s training the people on the phone to sound natural.

Paris Vega (13:37.919)
Okay.

Dominic Rubino (13:38.837)
Yeah. And you know, who does a good job of that is when you call Apple support, they do a very good job of sounding natural. And that comes from really high confidence training. Um, so when, at least when I do script writing or sales process formatting, like figuring out what our sales process is going to be, it, again, it starts with what I said a second ago, the customer and the customer’s needs and how they feel and what they’re trying to solve is the only thing that matters. And so everything has to come back to that.

So if I’m reading from a script and it says, thank you for buying our hand lotion. We, uh, hold on. Appreciate your business. Have you thought about our foot cream? It’s on sale now. Well, nobody’s going to buy that. They’re not. It’s, it sounds horrible. So I have to teach my people to be natural, to be friendly and really sales. We can overcomplicate sales all we want. We haven’t talked about this, but I was a business partner.

Paris Vega (14:23.147)
Yeah.

Dominic Rubino (14:35.749)
with Brian Tracy, who’s a very well-known sales and sales management guru, granted from the 80s and 90s, but sales is sales, it hasn’t changed for years. But you gotta make it conversational. You have to develop rapport and you have to make it sound smooth because nobody wants stilted conversation.

Paris Vega (14:54.082)
So do you hold like one on one like quality testing, like training sessions where it’s like acting out and making sure that they sound natural and that kind of thing? Okay.

Dominic Rubino (15:04.169)
Yeah, yeah, yeah. You know the biggest mistake that I see is that people call, people do product training and they think it’s sales training. Sales training is sales training. If you learn the process of selling, of having curiosity and caring, you can sell anything. As long as you’re curious about the other person and you care. Now it just so happens that my solution might be hand cream, foot cream.

skin whitening, whatever the product or service we’re selling is, right? But I have to be really curious and find out about that person and then solve a problem. If I just say, Oh, our skin cream has this much zinc and this much aloe and all the technical specs. You’re only going to sell to scientists. And how many scientists today are calling you, right? You need to find out why, why do you need skin cream at all? Can’t you just use the soap at your sink? Oh my God, no, it dries my skin out so bad. And then my hands crack. It’s really dry here.

then my dog likes to lick my hand when I feed him and that gets in there and it gets infected. Yike, so you really need skin cream. I do, okay. So if I understand you right, you need skin cream because you’ve tried everything. You’ve got a skin condition. You love your dog, your dog loves you. That’s causing a problem. One of the ways to solve it is this skin cream? Yeah, okay. How big a tub do you want?

Totally different than, and that was me being a jerk, but you know, like it’s just a normal conversation. But I have to train my people on our values, on my customers, what matters to my customers, the only thing that matters. That’s it.

Paris Vega (16:27.457)
Yeah.

Paris Vega (16:43.586)
So it sounds like you have to first spend a good amount of time getting clear on who your customer is, what their needs are, so that you have that kind of conversational level of insight so that you can have a natural conversation. So for example, the digital marketing agency I’m a part of, it’s a service that applies to any business that exists. And so a lot of times we can be in that.

Dominic Rubino (17:01.2)
Yeah.

Paris Vega (17:12.642)
fall into that trap of, well, this is for everybody because it’s, you know, everybody wants a website or needs a website or whatever, but that makes it difficult on the, you know, targeting scripting that side of things, because it’s like, well, how can you optimize for a specific audience if you’re trying to reach everybody?

Dominic Rubino (17:14.829)
It’s, but nobody wants to hear that. So are socks.

Dominic Rubino (17:30.561)
Yeah, but you see and you know we could talk about websites as an example. I wouldn’t come in talking about websites I would come in talking about solutions Right. Are you trying to reach your customers? Do your customers understand what you do and do you understand your customers? How do you reach them if they want to research you late at night? Or on the fly without talking to you, you know all of the business things that drive a business decision and on the consumer side We can do very similar things

but I just simply can’t overstate understanding your customer’s needs. And that’s where you have to get really crafty. Um, Facebook groups are a great place. Go find where your customers, your perfect customer, whether you have them or not, Chris, right? Doesn’t matter whether you’ve got the customers or not. Go look on a Facebook group that already serves your customer and really pay attention to what frustrates people or what they found and they were very excited by. All right. That’s the first thing. The second thing is go to Amazon and go look at a book.

that was written for your perfect customer. Go look at the comments section. The comments section is gonna say, I didn’t like this book, it didn’t do X, Y or Z. You’re like, huh, X, Y and Z sound pretty important to me. Guess what my product or service is now gonna do? The data has, we have never had better and easier access to data than now. And if you or I ignore it, it’s on us.

Paris Vega (18:30.478)
Okay. That’s good.

Paris Vega (18:52.366)
I love that one. Looking at the comments of something in that, the interest of your target customer.

Dominic Rubino (19:00.421)
Yeah, I mean, you gotta put a wacko filter on that because, you know, it’s Facebook. You need a wacko filter. But you get the point, right? If 99% of the people say this, then that’s important. How do I serve that need? And if I can’t, don’t lie, do not lie, ever. But find a way that you either serve it or solve it or adjust your product or service so that it does serve it or solve it.

Paris Vega (19:06.36)
Yeah.

Right. Yeah.

Paris Vega (19:17.046)
Mm.

Paris Vega (19:26.87)
Right. Okay. No, that’s some great insights. I’m going to be marinating on a few of those and try some of those myself. All right. Well, let’s move on to the six franchises that grew to over 200 around the world. What was that business and how did that get started?

Dominic Rubino (19:37.645)
Yeah, good.

Dominic Rubino (19:50.325)
Yeah, thank you. It seems so long ago now. I mean, it wasn’t because I sold it a couple of years ago before I started the two podcasts that I have now. But I, um, because when I left the corporate world, right? So I was in telecom and then I went and sold money for a while. Then I went back to another telephone company. And to be honest, I just did that to get the options before they went public. You know, I wasn’t really passionate about selling telecom services, but then I bought a franchise from somebody else.

for business coaching. So I learned how to become a business coach in the year 2000. Faris, that’s the turn of the century. I’m old, dude. Been around for a while. I’ve been, when I was a business coach, the word business and coach were not used in a sentence together. Yeah.

Paris Vega (20:33.034)
Yeah, and that’s right before the dot com bubble happened. Yeah.

Dominic Rubino (20:36.901)
right. And remember the mail order pharmacy was right there was during that dot com bubble. And we never got caught up in it because we never actually referred to ourself as a website. We were a mail order pharmacy. That little change in mindset didn’t allow us to get sucked into the dot com bubble and start to do dumb things. It’s a business run it like a business. Don’t don’t get headfaked by things that don’t exist. Right? Anyways, the

Paris Vega (20:42.451)
Oh, okay.

Paris Vega (20:51.755)
Mm-hmm.

Paris Vega (21:00.514)
So the website was performing its function as just part of your marketing instead of it being, Hey, we’re this new hot startup that’s based on the web or whatever. Yeah.

Dominic Rubino (21:04.377)
Yeah, that’s all it was.

Dominic Rubino (21:09.005)
Yeah, no, we had a real solid business behind it. And I should say that we had a very clear CTA. I know you know what this is, but call to action. Our call to action was one thing, that 1-800 number, phone this number. That was it. I mean, eventually we had a form where people could contact us if they didn’t wanna talk, but really the call to action, the clear call to action, which I firmly believe in, one simple call to action.

Paris Vega (21:25.847)
Okay.

Dominic Rubino (21:37.573)
that everything drives through was that.

Paris Vega (21:41.166)
That’s why the phone was ringing off the hook.

Dominic Rubino (21:43.053)
It was going crazy. And sorry, I now I’m off from your question. So, uh, anyways, I learned to become a business coach by actually buying a franchise from another coaching organization. But there’s, there’s kind of overlapping lines here. I don’t know if people can see the screen, but, um, I left corporate bought that franchise during the term of that franchise. I started the pharmacy and it grew and I sold it at that time. The franchise had terminated lapsed. I only had a five year franchise term. So that had come and gone.

And then I found out that Brian Tracy had started his own business coaching franchise and he was looking for somebody to take it over. So a partner and I bought it from him and he had six franchisees. Now something else I didn’t tell you is that because I have a background from sales, I also had a background in training, which goes hand in hand with professional business coaches. So when I was at the first franchise, I was actually training business coaches there. So they were flying me to New Zealand, Australia.

obviously the United States up to Canada to train other franchisees. So I was already experienced in that. So buying the business from Brian Tracy and revamping that was what I’d already known how to do. So he had six franchisees. We had to get them successful. Success as a business coach means one thing, get success for your clients. Doesn’t mean success for yourself. You get your clients successful. All else takes care of itself. And so that’s how we started. That was always the premise of that franchise. That’s why we grew it to over 200 units around the world.

Paris Vega (23:13.674)
Okay. So that was sounds like as long as you did great customer service, delivered your service really well. That’s what was the core of that growth driver. Okay.

Dominic Rubino (23:25.017)
Yeah, yeah. But there you’re selling IP, you’re selling intellectual property services, right? You’re not selling anything tangible, you’re selling a system, you’re selling a new mindset. And so that takes a slightly different angle on the same thing. Be very curious about what people need and care about the solution and they will work with you.

Paris Vega (23:46.498)
So how did the approach to a new customer for that franchise business look? Or like, there’s two kind of questions here, like a new customer for that franchise, like how would you approach them and close them? And then like the decision to open up a new franchise, like what did that look like?

Dominic Rubino (23:59.217)
Hmm

Dominic Rubino (24:05.625)
Yeah, two very, two very different things. Like, so how do we sell somebody a franchise if they qualify? And then how does a franchisee sell a customer? And maybe what I’ll do, if you don’t mind, let me start with how do you find and bring a customer on as a business coach? Cause there’s lots of coaches who are listening, probably more than franchisors. So, and there’s lots of different types of business co or lots of different types of coaches out there now, not just business coaches, but lots of different kinds.

Paris Vega (24:11.889)
Mm-hmm.

Paris Vega (24:21.611)
Yeah.

Paris Vega (24:31.159)
Right.

Dominic Rubino (24:34.869)
One of the things I’ve always found is we have to get out of our own head. What I think is value to the client is not what the client thinks is value. So quite often in a, at a dinner conversation, or if I’m at a barbecue and somebody’s, Oh, you’re a business coach. You show people how to make money or you take failing businesses and you, and you turn them around. I’m like, kinda. So first I don’t work with failing businesses. I only work with successful businesses that want to get to the next level.

But to get to the next level, they just can’t see over the hill. So I show them what that looks like. That’s our simple system, right? You have to find out what the customer needs. And if you are the solution, let them know that, but it comes from asking a ton of open-ended questions and really understanding their place.

Paris Vega (25:23.603)
Okay. Can you give an example of what one of those questions might be on a like intro, first discovery sales called first meeting, first conversation?

Dominic Rubino (25:32.569)
Yeah. The very first one is have you ever talked to a business coach before? Just an open-ended question. Let’s get us started. Right. And so if, if you could wave a magic wand and you could change anything in this business, anything you wanted, what would those be? Maybe give me three. What would be three big things you wanted time and money or no object? What would they be? And then just start writing notes. They probably won’t stop talking for 20 minutes and let them talk.

Paris Vega (25:37.983)
Okay.

Dominic Rubino (26:02.597)
give them the right and the respect to get it all out of their head because you’re the only person they can talk to.

Paris Vega (26:10.446)
So can you say that second question again?

Dominic Rubino (26:13.693)
Yeah, if you had unlimited time and money, if you could change anything you want in your business, what would it be? Give me three things you would change in the business. I can’t tell you the worst answer I ever got to that. I knew I was in front of the wrong prospect. She said, I would change the carpets. I’m like, oh no, I’m in the wrong meeting. I’m in the wrong meeting, what am I doing here? I hadn’t qualified properly, right? It’s on me.

Paris Vega (26:18.53)
Gotcha, yeah, in your business.

Paris Vega (26:24.654)
What’s that?

Paris Vega (26:38.638)
You’re like, well, there’s a carpet store down the street.

Dominic Rubino (26:40.613)
Yeah, like that’s what you would change in this business. I’m talking like high level. What do we have to do? She’s like, I would change the carpets. And I just thought, how do I get out of this? I’m in the wrong meeting, man. It’s my fault, but you know.

Paris Vega (26:53.226)
So the goal behind that open ended question is you’re trying to discover their goals or in pain points that kind of OK.

Dominic Rubino (26:59.065)
Yes, that’s right. Yeah, what are their pain points? You might think it’s money, but it might be time. And usually both money and time and frustration come down to family. At the root cause of all of this is family. And in so many different flavors that even I can’t count them. The nuances of family, of not being home, of missing your daughter’s softball practice when she really wanted you there. Or…

being the mom or dad who was at the practice, but on their phone looking down the whole time, not watching her when she made the great catch, the great play. That sucks. None of us sign up for that. Your kid deserves better. So I wouldn’t say that to them, but they already, they know that and they’re talking to me because something’s gotta change, man. What do I change? And there’s an order of operations for the change, which I know inside and out, but it depends on what they need first. But I have to listen, you know?

There’s so many different things. There’s a guy that I was asking that same question to. And I’m like, well, why do you want more sales? And it sounds dumb. It’s the dumbest question somebody’s got. Why do you want more money? But I gave him time to answer that question in long conversation. But here’s what it came down to. His mom had dementia and had to go in a home.

Paris Vega (28:12.872)
Right.

Dominic Rubino (28:24.793)
She was in a room with three other ladies. So a quad, you know, a four, a four setup. And one of the other women was up all night yelling and screaming and his mom couldn’t sleep. His dad had left the scene years ago. He was basically raised by his mother and just, you know, pretty emotional. He’s like, my mom deserves better. I got to get this business so I can put her in a private room. And by the way, we did, we did. But you, do you want to know if that guy’s driven? That guy.

Paris Vega (28:49.07)
That’s cool.

Dominic Rubino (28:53.282)
What’s going to stop him taking care of his mom? But you have to give him a chance to talk about it.

Paris Vega (29:01.186)
So how much of that first conversation is just that open ended listening? Like, is there that, there’s a point where you transition to pitching the service, like get into the little, like, how would you coach someone who you were training as one of your salespeople?

Dominic Rubino (29:07.585)
Ha.

Dominic Rubino (29:16.781)
Listening is the thing. You know, the 80-20 rule, I’ve gotta listen more than I talk, or, you know, God gave us two ears and one mouth and we should use them in proportion. So, obviously I have scripts. I’m a big fan of scripts. The scripts are not word-by-word scripts. They’re more themes, like we have to explore this theme and this theme and this theme, and those always remain the same. But I’m gonna ask the question, then let the person answer.

And then we’re going to have an intelligent conversation about how those things interact. And at some point, I’m going to say, should we talk about the solutions? Do you want to hear how coaching works? It’s even better if they ask. Now let me back up by saying, when we talk about professional services, it is not a one-call close. Is that a language you guys are familiar with on the show? Like the sales format?

Paris Vega (30:07.422)
One call closed. I don’t think we’ve talked about that specifically.

Dominic Rubino (30:12.441)
Yeah, so for instance at the pharmacy, somebody calls, we’re going for the sale. They don’t need a lot of time. It’s transactional, right? Yeah. Like if you run a dog walking service or a doggy daycare, they call, they want to know if you’ve got capacity availability, what does it look like? It’s a closer. It’s not a close intellectual property services where you’re selling accounting, finance, legal consulting, any of those types of things. I like to follow a to call close format.

Paris Vega (30:20.718)
and it’s inbound hot lead.

Dominic Rubino (30:40.621)
And so the first call is short. It’s a qualifying call. Just very simply, I’ll say it’s 30 minutes. It changes depending on the industry, but the first call is just 30 minutes. It’s a discovery call. They have to get to know and trust me. And I have to figure out if they’re a qualified candidate for this at all. Do we have all decision makers present? Those rules never go away. I’m not gonna waste an entire hour if they can’t get the other decision maker on the phone. Right? If all decision makers are not there, we’re not having the meeting.

Paris Vega (31:10.101)
Mm.

Dominic Rubino (31:11.065)
Right? You, you must have all decision makers there to make a decision. Um, um, I want them on the discovery and if they’re not there, now it’s my job to get them on the second call, which is very hard to do, but you got to do it other than wasting the time. Right? So we, we need. Or we don’t have it. Yeah. That’s right. We don’t have it until. Yeah. That is that if they’re, if you ask me, what’s the hard and fast rule about sales, there’s a bunch of them, but one of them is

Paris Vega (31:14.474)
the discovery color that second.

Paris Vega (31:26.774)
So you’d rather not even have the meeting until that decision maker can make that meeting.

Dominic Rubino (31:39.617)
You can only present your solution when all decision makers are present and when they all completely understand what we’re talking about They can’t just cruise in at the last minute and go. Yeah. Yeah, tell me what you guys were talking about Nope Right, so why it’s embarrassing It’s never it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work. It’s better to cut it off

Paris Vega (31:54.146)
been there.

Yeah.

Paris Vega (32:00.995)
So that.

Okay. I was going to say that I know that specific little behavior can be tough because you can feel like a pressure when you’re trying to get sales for your business, like a time pressure. Like we got to, you know, keep the pace of this thing moving forward. So maybe you’ll accept that earlier meeting without all the decision makers just because you want to keep showing progress or whatever. But you’re saying it’d be better to

Dominic Rubino (32:17.649)
We gotta sell.

Paris Vega (32:31.394)
Do whatever you have to do, wait as long as you have to do to get all the decision makers in the meeting.

Dominic Rubino (32:35.193)
Yep, that’s right. They have to be there. It simply can’t happen. It simply can’t. Yeah, that could be the big takeaway from this meeting. Now, there’s people listening who are like, this guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about. We never get both decision makers there. Well, I know exactly how this is gonna sound, but I will sell circles around you the rest of your life if you believe that. You will work harder than you need to.

Paris Vega (32:38.967)
Hmm.

I’m going to have to chew on that one a little while.

Paris Vega (32:46.143)
Yeah.

Paris Vega (32:51.499)
Right, right.

Paris Vega (33:00.686)
awesome.

Dominic Rubino (33:02.533)
get all decision makers there, figure out how to do it respectfully and with care, and you’ll be able to, you’ll have an unstoppable business, but you can’t do it without the decision makers.

Paris Vega (33:13.09)
So does that put more pressure on the prospecting and qualifying time to where you actually figure out who the decision makers are before you even talk to anybody?

Dominic Rubino (33:24.025)
That’s such a great point. Such a great point, right? Now, when we’re talking about corporate, like big, we sometimes have to work our way up. You gotta swim like a salmon upstream. So there’s some tactic there, right? So I’m not taking that into account, but we are still getting to the decision maker. If you’re dealing with purchasers, you’re in purgatory. You’re just, you’ve gotta get out of that loop. Purchasers don’t care. They’re just reducing you to a commodity. But I’m talking about where we have the, like you sell websites and different digital media services.

Paris Vega (33:31.378)
Okay.

Paris Vega (33:36.615)
Gotcha.

Dominic Rubino (33:53.209)
We should be able to get to the decision maker of a company up to, let’s say eight or $10 million easily, but we got to work it and we have to have a reason. Why do we need the president of an $8 million company in this meeting? And my answer is, are you kidding me? I’m surprised we got this far. First of all, you shouldn’t be wasting your time unless this is at the level of that kind of decision. And second, the solutions I’m talking about are going to ripple through the entire company.

The only person who knows where all those ripples are gonna land is the president. I can’t do this meeting and I just can’t for you. I can’t do the meeting unless he’s here or she’s here. Can’t do it. Somebody’s gonna get mad. Somebody’s gonna get mad at me and I don’t want that. So when can Jenny be here? When can George be here?

Stop right there. That has to happen.

Paris Vega (34:43.802)
Interesting. Yeah, this is kind of new information from my perspective. I’ve heard the emphasis on, you know, meeting with decision makers, like that’s the ideal, but I haven’t heard somebody say I’m just not meeting with anybody unless they’re a decision maker. So that’s cool.

Dominic Rubino (34:51.989)
Yeah, yeah.

Dominic Rubino (34:57.249)
Yeah, and I get caught. I get caught every once in a while. The decision maker is not there, but it’s not going to happen. And so now there’s a whole other loop that I’ve got to get into. How do we get the decision makers there? But again, if they’re not there, that’s pretty much a dead deal. Yep. Yeah. Well, they can, they can not be in the first meeting, but we’re not going to have the second meeting. So let me, let me thank you for that point. What happens if they’re not in the first half hour meeting?

Paris Vega (35:11.746)
really, if they’re not in that first meeting.

Paris Vega (35:18.23)
Gotcha.

Dominic Rubino (35:24.961)
My only job is to sell the second 30 minute meeting with all decision makers present. And then we can go to the third meeting, which is the full, say a one hour presentation, a one hour meeting. It’s still the two call closed format, but we had a fail on the first call where we didn’t have all decision makers present.

Paris Vega (35:47.446)
Because you’re looking at it as official call is where the decision makers are there. That counts as that first call, whenever the first call is that they’re present.

Dominic Rubino (35:56.646)
If they are not there, you are visiting. You’re not selling. Nothing. You’re not. You’re visiting.

Paris Vega (36:01.026)
So even if you talk to the gatekeeper in that first meeting, you still want to do a discovery style in that second meeting where you’re talking to the decision maker.

Dominic Rubino (36:04.83)
Eh.

Dominic Rubino (36:10.681)
Yeah, you got, you got to get the decision maker there. So can I give you a book suggestion? It’s an old book, but it doesn’t matter. It’s fantastic. It’s called selling to veto and it’s written by Tony Paranello. He’s Italian, but he’s not related to me. Veto stands. It’s an acronym. V I T O very important top officer. Now in some cases it’s going to be too much gun for the bear. I don’t know what people are selling here. They’ve welcome at this entrepreneurialism our own way. Maybe they’re selling

Paris Vega (36:15.039)
Yeah.

Paris Vega (36:22.324)
Okay.

Dominic Rubino (36:39.673)
hand creams and maybe they’re selling heavy equipment, whatever. Sales is about continuous study. It really is an art. It’s not just randomness and it’s not just talking. I’m playing chess while everybody else is playing checkers. I need to know these inside tracks. That book selling to veto will explain who the decision maker is, who the influencer is, and we’ve got names for them by the way, the influencer’s name is Seymour, they just want to see more.

It doesn’t matter, right? Then you got, Mr. How much is it? That guy, say that, how much is it? The only thing that person knows is to ask is, how much is it? Because they don’t see the value. The decision maker sees all the decisions and the impact of those decisions. The decision maker is the one who says, I understand this is more expensive and this is the feature set or the service that we need. That’s why we’re doing it. Can I add one more thing?

Paris Vega (37:14.539)
Yeah.

Paris Vega (37:34.382)
Please do.

Dominic Rubino (37:35.449)
Okay, sorry, man, you got to cut me off here. But the decision maker is the only person who can say yes. They have all the power in the world to say yes. Everybody else in that organization has only one power and that is to say no.

Paris Vega (37:38.187)
I don’t know.

Dominic Rubino (37:53.297)
they can only say no. I’m not talking to that person.

Paris Vega (37:58.146)
Gotcha. And depending on the structure of a company, it may not necessarily be the CEO, because somebody like, in some cases, we’ll talk to a marketing director, a VP, but they were there managing a budget or whatever, and they can hire agencies or whatever, or, but that would be counted as a decision maker in that situation. If they’re the ones I got you.

Dominic Rubino (38:07.845)
Yeah, you’re selling to a department.

Dominic Rubino (38:12.453)
Yeah, yeah. But who’s the decision maker? Yeah, yeah, right. Yeah, there’s always a decision maker, but you need to know who that decision maker is. If you tell me the decision maker is somebody in an administrative position, I’m not knocking anybody in an admin position. You know, no, this person works up front, they take all the phone calls, they know what the need is, they’re making all the decisions. I’m like, you’re wasting all the time.

You go ahead and you run after that all you want. You’re not making a sale, buddy. You’re visiting, you’re not selling. I sound mean. I’ve just been tested by fire, man. Listen, there was a point in time when I lived on barbecue sauce sandwiches because I wasn’t picking up what I’m putting down right now. You know?

Paris Vega (38:53.045)
That’s good.

Paris Vega (39:02.914)
So where do you think along your career, did some of this stuff really crystallize? Maybe it’s hard to say a certain point, but was there like a transition point where you’re like, okay, this is how the proper way to do things and where you kind of turned a different direction.

Dominic Rubino (39:17.221)
Yeah. It started at sprint. I mean, we really got trained like gladiators. So we were in a, you know, you take any city that you’re, you know, we were in a big city and the city was split into four quarters. And then the downtown, which is obviously the most dense place was also split into four quarters. So you had territory ABC or D and that was your territory. You could sell it. That was it. The borders were the borders, but wait,

there were three other guys in that territory with you. And you had a number to meet monthly. And if you didn’t, you might get away with one or two months of not hitting your number, but three months and you’re gone. You’re just gone.

Paris Vega (39:58.67)
So they purposely would put multiple people in the same area to keep it competitive.

Dominic Rubino (40:01.673)
Maximum capacity, maximum. And like I said, it was a high testosterone frat house. Right. And we were still trained to sell ethically and professionally. That’s where I learned about selling to veto. That’s where I originally was introduced to Brian Tracy, who would one day become my business partner. Talk about crazy talk, who would think that? Who would ever think I never dreamed it. But there’s a discipline, there’s a science to selling. And again, you can go through all that.

Maybe you never want to, as long as you’re curious and you care, you act ethically and you’re really trying to help people, you’ll be able to sell. But there’s a whole science behind it.

Paris Vega (40:43.618)
So selling DeVito, are there any other books you might recommend? Yes, you have a list of a little stack of books behind your row of books.

Dominic Rubino (40:47.831)
Hmm.

Dominic Rubino (40:51.361)
Yeah, I do. Yeah. So I’ll tell you immediately in my mind, I was going to tell you all the books that I have behind me. But I think what’s more important, if I follow my own advice, is I would ask everybody listening is who’s your ideal client? If your perfect customer is really into horses, or really into dogs or really into toothbrushes, like, I don’t know, read what they read. Like if you sell to dentists, read what they care about reading.

and get in their head, try to join forums where they’re talking. You don’t have to talk. Just listen, learn what are their pain points? So what’s the pain point in the equestrian industry? What’s the pain point in heavy equipment? What’s the pain point for me? You know, I deal with contractors, people that own construction and contracting companies. What is their pains are very interesting to me because I need to be the person that solves that pain.

So if you have the world’s greatest baking pan.

Does it matter if you don’t understand why people are using it? What if you find out that people are using it for making Jell-O molds? And you just keep saying, it’s a baking pan, it’s a baking pan. But everybody who’s really into Jell-O, I’m making this stuff up by the way. But everybody who’s really into Jell-O is like, this is the greatest thing that ever happened to the world of Jell-O. But you keep going, it’s a baking pan, it’s a baking pan. You’re just missing so much opportunity.

Paris Vega (42:22.382)
So get to know your target customer. It seems to be the ongoing theme on our podcast here has been, it seems like the recurring pattern is clearly define that target customer and then connect with them as much and as deeply as possible. Because we’ve had some entrepreneurs say that the business would be born just from talking about

Dominic Rubino (42:25.617)
get in their head.

Paris Vega (42:48.382)
an idea for a business that could solve some of their problems, just purely from conversation, talking to people they wanted to serve. And the business was, that was the first customer, just from brainstorming with people. And so that just reinforces, I think what we’ve heard repeatedly is defining that target customer and connecting with them seems to be the critical piece, kind of that core of everything to do with getting that first customer.

Dominic Rubino (42:52.689)
Sure.

Dominic Rubino (43:17.121)
Yeah. And I’ve got to get better at it too, by the way. Like that’s still in my head. How do we get better? How do we get better? You know, we got hacked the other day, Paris. Yeah. And we got hacked kind of internally. I fired a subcontractor, and then they came back in through an admin password and sent a email to my entire database. Super classy. Do you know what I got back as feedback from our audience?

Paris Vega (43:27.926)
Uh oh.

Paris Vega (43:35.652)
Oh.

Paris Vega (43:40.229)
Mm.

Dominic Rubino (43:46.041)
I could tell it wasn’t you, Don. Didn’t sound right.

Dominic Rubino (43:52.781)
Right? The email didn’t sound right.

and they could tell it wasn’t me. Now, I’m telling you, I still have to get better at understanding the core driving need of my audience, but I love my audience. And what was so cool for me is they said, that didn’t sound like you.

Paris Vega (43:59.128)
Right.

Paris Vega (44:14.806)
powerful. So you’ve communicated so much and so deeply with them that they recognize you, even through digital formats. Yeah.

Dominic Rubino (44:23.266)
Even after I got hacked. Yeah. And it’s not even a hack. It was kind of a social engineering hack, right? Crazy.

Paris Vega (44:28.682)
Yeah, no, that’s powerful stuff. And thanks again for spending time with us today. I think this is a good place to end it. Um, you’ve shared some just pure gold, uh, when it comes to sales advice and finding those first customers. Um, what’s your current business that you’re running, and what’s the current kind of target customer you’re going after just in case anybody who might be in your target.

audience is listening.

Dominic Rubino (44:59.269)
listening to this. So the you know as I mentioned before I work exclusively with construction and contracting business owners. So I’ve got two podcasts one of them is called Profit Tool Belt. I’m wearing that hat today. The other one Preece Do Not Drink Your Coffee Right Now. I’m gonna tell you the title of the other podcast and when I tell you the title I want to see if you can guess who the audience is. Are you ready? Here’s what it’s called Cabinet Maker Profit System.

Paris Vega (45:10.348)
Okay.

Paris Vega (45:20.206)
Okay. Yeah.

Paris Vega (45:26.56)
Mmm, cabinet makers.

Dominic Rubino (45:30.137)
Yep. Greatest audience. You nicest people you have ever met. So they do cabinetry. They do architectural millwork. They do closets. They also do furniture and you’re like, Robino, are you kidding me? You’re laughing. I could see and you know what nicest? I, I just came back from speaking at an Amish business conference because of I, and I love my audience, but I also respect where they, where they come in from, where they’re where they’re at.

Paris Vega (45:34.133)
OK.

Paris Vega (45:51.278)
Nice.

Dominic Rubino (45:59.377)
You know, it’s hard for the Amish to bring in an outsider. I have to, you know, I have to have shown that I respect the boundaries of their culture and the way of approaching things, and that I can do work and find results within that boundary. That’s inside of the industry of cabinetry. That’s not the whole industry of cabinetry. So again, understanding your ideal audience, that’s what I’m trying to do. So I’ve got, if you’re in construction or contracting,

Paris Vega (46:21.1)
Right.

Dominic Rubino (46:28.633)
If you cut, if you take big pieces of wood and then you cut them into little pieces of wood and you put them together into pretty pieces of wood or, you know, steel or whatever, or tiles. I’m your guy. If you build houses, Renaults, that’s, that’s who I serve. Yeah.

Paris Vega (46:37.166)
I’m going to go ahead and close the video.

Paris Vega (46:42.766)
Awesome. All right, we’re gonna put links to all of your businesses and the different things we’ve mentioned in the show notes. But thanks again, this has been great. It’s really nice meeting you and look forward to talking to you more. Appreciate you being here. Thanks.

Dominic Rubino (46:57.585)
Thanks, Paris.


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