About the show:
The Agency Spark Podcast, hosted by Sara Nay, is a collection of short-form interviews from thought leaders in the marketing consultancy and agency space. Each episode focuses on a single topic with actionable insights you can apply today.
About this episode:
In this episode of the Agency Spark Podcast, Sara talks with Shaun Clark on how to make your clients successful so they never want to leave.
Shaun Clark is a serial entrepreneur, multi-millionaire, and a co-founder and the CEO of HighLevel, the #1 white-label marketing platform for agencies, serving more than 20,000 agency owners.
Prior to HighLevel, Shaun founded, operated, and sold InvoiceSherpa, a SaaS company that continues to help thousands of businesses around the world get paid faster.
HighLevel is Shaun’s third successful SaaS company. Shaun studied computer science at college and is a software developer by trade.
- Shaun’s background and journey to launching HighLevel
- How HighLevel solves the overwhelming and underutilized tool stack problem for agencies
- How to get the most out of the platform and guide the customer journey
More from Shaun Clark:
Sara Nay (00:00): This episode of the agency, spark podcast is brought to you by monday.com. A powerful project management platform. I personally am a big user and fan of monday.com and spend most of my day working within their platform. Learn more about how to set your team up for firstname.lastname@example.org slash Monday.
Sara Nay (00:24): Welcome to the agency spark podcast. This is your host, Sarah nay. Today I have Sean Clark, a serial entrepreneur, multimillionaire and co-founder and CEO of high level. The number one white label marketing platform for agencies serving more than 15,000 agency owners. Prior to high levels. Sean founded, operated and sold invoice Sherpa, a SAS company that continues to help thousands of businesses around the world get paid faster. So welcome to the show, Sean. Well,
Shaun Clark (00:53): Hey, thanks for having me. It's great to be here.
Sara Nay (00:55): All right. I'm so excited to chat with you more today. The topic that we're gonna dive into is how to make your clients successful, so they never want to leave. So I can't wait to hear what you have to say on that topic. The show is yours. Let's go.
Shaun Clark (01:08): Perfect. Well, thank you. Basically, when we started high level, initially, I'm a software engineer by trade, and I really had this vision that I had a prior SaaS company. I was helping small business owners on the accounting side and I kept asking what else they wanted. And they said the same thing I said, I want more customers. And so naively at the time I thought I could write some code for that. And we initially launched high level 1.0 with this intention of really selling an SMB focused, direct SMB sales kind of cycle, where we were doing. But we just started off with two way text messaging and I think reputation management. And since then, what, the big thing that we realized is we're going through this journey is that actually selling to SMEs is a huge mistake because what you're missing on the sales and marketing side is that they don't have the time and knowledge and capacity to do this themselves.
Shaun Clark (01:51): So even if you have the best hammer and the best saw their ability to build a house out of the, with those tools is limited and they need a, a local marketing expert to help them do that. And we realized over time, that meant don't try to sell to small businesses, try to help enable an agency and sell to an agency, give them the tools and enable them to help their clients be successful. And that's really what we've been doing for the last three or four years. Do we no longer sell the SMBs? We have 'em for many years now, we only sell the agencies. So today we've sold, we work with 15,000 agencies in about half a million SMBs through those agencies. So we're actually a very large platform that very few SMBs know about, which is exactly how we like it. So basically we've created this platform where initially our goal was, Hey, Mr.
Shaun Clark (02:36): Or Mrs. Agency owner, we're the agency toolkit. So come in take, think of all the tools you're currently using that you're sticking together with Zappier could be calendaring tools could be CRM tools could be marketing automation tools could be funnel building tools, website, building tools, but what if we just put them all in one platform? And that was like our first go to market motion, hugely successful, really focused around this idea of, Hey, are you generating leads for your clients? Let's use that marketing automation and the calendaring to automate the lead to generally it's a calendar booking journey. And we really did a great job with that. And we still do an awesome job with that today. But what we've learned by working with agencies is there's this whole other motion here that is really actually quite a revolution. So the idea is, as an agency today, have you ever had this happen?
Shaun Clark (03:20): You're selling services, but as part of your services, you also then have to recommend technology. And so you tell your clients, all right, listen, go sign up for X, Y, Z platform or platforms, and then I'll come in and then I'll put my services on top of that technology. It's everybody does that because today, of course, as a small business, I need both services and technology. And, but what happens as an agency is what our clients do is they get confused. They think, wait a sec, it's that software that I'm paying a 300 bucks a month for that's doing all this magical work. It has nothing to do with this $3,000 a month marketing service I'm paying for and they get confused and they end up cutting the services and keeping the software well, in that case, the agency gets kicked out of the game, has no revenue.
Shaun Clark (04:04): And now they've just minted a new customer for X, Y, Z platform. So what we realized is, wait a second. What if we took those same tools and we allow the agencies to white label them, sell them as their own platform on a monthly basis. And essentially when they are walking into a client engagement, be able to now sell and provide the technology and the service seamlessly in one place. And if they do lose the services, now they can actually retain the revenue on the software side. And that's exactly what we've been doing. And now we have literally thousands of agencies doing this and they're being incredibly successful. And some of them are turning into essentially defacto SaaS companies in their own. We'll have one's agency this year, do 10 million in revenue, just on software. And we'll have the next one down is 6 million. And then we have a ton of other people below that. But the big aha is the churn rates here fall to zero. And the marginal revenue for the customer goes way up because customers won't keep services for a lifetime, but they will keep software for a lifetime. And so it's just been this incredible revolution and I believe it's really the future of what agencies are all about. It's really about that 360 degree provisioning and providing of both technology and service in one spot.
Sara Nay (05:18): Yeah, I think it makes a ton of sense. And when we're doing, I do sales for our company and that is the conversation all the time that comes up, we talk about marketing services and it's always what tools you recommend, what do we need to have? What CRMs is all that's naturally where the conversation goes next, because they need to understand the marketing services, but also how it's all gonna roll out and get in front of their customers. So I think combining the two from the very beginning makes a hundred percent sense. One question I wanna shift into a little bit, what we talk about a lot is the customer journey. So all the ways that someone can get to know like trust, try by repeat, refer from a business. Yeah. And so I'd love to hear about high level specifically, cuz there's so many different features and capabilities from my understanding. Totally. And so do you have tools in each of those areas that really help guide people along essentially the customer journey? Cause you talked about leads. So after someone's a lead, like how do you continue to nurture people for businesses? Ultimately?
Shaun Clark (06:11): Absolutely. So I think the way, so we had to meet our customer where they stood and saying someone's an agency is, as we all know, it's saying someone's like a doctor, right? There's lots of different types of agencies. So we try to meet every agency where they stand. So they come in and say, I just do social media posting, great. We've got social media posting. I just do Facebook ads. Great. We got that. So we try to meet the agency initially and say, Hey, listen, let us replace all the tools you're currently using and put them in one spot. That's step one, because we feel like if the agency can't get an understanding of what the tool does in the context of how they already operate, it's hard to get them to switch or change or add something additional. Yeah. But what we ultimately recommend is again, using the SaaS play as we call it and really being a SAS per walking into the client with a $300 a month price point, you're just gotta get a lot more yeses at 300 bucks.
Shaun Clark (06:59): And what can you do at $300? Everything that you've ever seen on the SMB SAS side you can do. So this could be automated review reputation management. This could be two way text messaging. This could be a web chat widget on the website. There's a lot of really simple, easy things. This could be Google LSA booking. So if you have service businesses, you could sh offer them the ability to have people actually book right through their GMB listing. Those sorts of really easy things. GMB messaging, Instagram messaging, Facebook messenger, huge. Like those types of lead-ins are awesome, right? Because I always love the one single business we have is an HVAC company in my local town. And literally had this guy as a customer for six years, he pays me 300 bucks a month. He never calls me. And all we do, quote unquote, all we do is reputation management.
Shaun Clark (07:44): And literally that's sending a text out to everybody who comes that he serves. And he went from 12 reviews. When I got started with him, he was a one man band. He now has 400 plus reviews. He has 13 trucks. He's one of the biggest HVAC companies in my little, my college town here. And it's all off the back of those reviews because he's just naturally gone to the top of Google and he gets a lot more business for it. So there's a lot of simple, easy ways to walk into this. But we also want agencies to know that whatever they're currently doing, we can already meet them where they stand.
Sara Nay (08:15): Yeah. A lot of times when we start working with small businesses like ourselves in the agency mode, they maybe have a few tools in place. So let's say they have a CRM that they're tied to and they've been using for years, but they're not really doing much in terms of reputation management. And so there's ways to integrate and let them stay on their CRM, but bring in tools from high level to basically compliment and build on top of what they're
Shaun Clark (08:38): Doing. Absolutely. Yeah. And I think that, yeah, so that is also a very good point. So if you come in and they've got a bunch of other stuff, cool, we have Zapier and APIs and all of that. So it's easier to integrate with those things. And then for those people who don't have something you have a full offering. And then again, over time as an agency, I think the idea is that in your domain, you need to be the subject matter expert. I would also say that most businesses, even if you come in and they say, well, you've had the CRM forever. You're like, great. Show me what you do with it. Mm-hmm
Shaun Clark (09:16): But then over time have that goal of working back everything and taking all of that over simply because you know that there is something they need to do in that CRM, but there's a bunch of other things that honestly they need done for them, which you do, you specialize in. And the nice thing about having one co system is it makes your life a lot easier. And we, because we specialize in agencies, right? You're not talking about six or seven different logins. You're talking about one login. It's already, you have sub-accounts, you can move seamlessly between customers. We have this thing called snapshot. So you can any type of asset that you create, think landing, page, website, workflow, automation, whatever you can seamlessly, literally push out to multiple sub-accounts very easily. So these are the types of things that also help you scale as an agency, as you go along.
Sara Nay (10:03): Yeah, absolutely awesome. Well, people are interested. You peak their interests today and they wanna learn more about high level work and they find you
Shaun Clark (10:09): Online. Obviously there's the website go high level.com. But I, you know, if you wanna peek behind the scenes, I love our YouTube channel. We have a thriving Facebook community of 20,000 marketing agencies only, which is cool, but you gotta be a customer to, to check it out. So I'd go to the YouTube cha YouTube and search high level and check out our, our YouTube channel. It's phenomenal.
Sara Nay (10:26): Awesome. Love it. Thank you so much for being here, Sean. And thank you all for listening. Yeah. To the agency's podcast. This is your host. We'll see you next time.
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This episode of the Agency Spark Podcast is brought to you by Monday.com, a powerful project management platform. Monday.com helps teams easily build, run, and scale their dream workflows on one platform. I personally am a user and big fan of Monday.com – I start my workday pulling up the platform and spend my day working within it for everything from task management to running client engagements. Learn more about Monday.com at ducttape.me/monday.