If you’re in direct sales, if you’re seeing success, and especially if you’re working to turn your business into your full-time career, you may find that you’re growing into a leadership position that requires more time and energy than you have to give. Luckily, there are VAs and OBMs like Whitney Hoefer, who will partner with you and offer support so that you can step away from day-to-day business management and into the roles you love! Whitney joined us on the Modern Direct Seller Podcast not only to discuss the details of her work, but also to share some of her favorite systems to help sellers grow in scale and spend their time intentionally, and you won’t want to miss her tips for showing up in sales as your best self.
Time based notes:
- 1:37 Whitney Hoefer introduction
- 5:16 OBM vs. VA
- 9:11 Whitney’s social media system
- 10:54 Whitney’s lead gen system
- 12:53 Whitney’s team support system
- 13:57 Whitney’s customer support system
- 14:46 Whitney’s email marketing system
- 17:00 How to start building systems
- 18:08 OBMs and behind the scenes support
Use Your Time and Energy Effectively with Tips from Whitney Hoefer
If you’re in direct sales, if you’re seeing success, and especially if you’re working to turn your business into your full-time career, you may find that you’re growing into a leadership position that requires more time and energy than you have to give. Luckily, there are VAs and OBMs like Whitney Hoefer, who will partner with you and offer support so that you can step away from day-to-day business management and into the roles you love! Whitney joined us on the most recent episode of the Modern Direct Seller Podcast not only to discuss the details of her work, but also to share some of her favorite systems to help sellers grow in scale and spend their time intentionally.
Whitney, to kick us off, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself, what you do, and who you serve?
Well, I live here in Kansas City, home of the reigning Super Bowl champs—go Chiefs! I live here with my husband, Derek, and we have two kiddos. My daughter is six, and I have a son who’s two and a half. So, life is busy.
And, my whole background is in marketing. I went to the University of Kansas. My corporate background was working in management and marketing roles. And, in the summer of 2019, I started my business as a virtual assistant. And so, I was looking at a lot of similar reasons that direct sellers have when they come into the business—the time freedom, the flexibility, the autonomy. That was very much what I was looking for when I came upon this world of virtual assistants.
And, at the beginning of 2020, I was approached by a woman who came to me out of the blue and said, “I need help. I’m growing. I’m at the top of my company. I’m doing all the things. And, I’m in desperate need of help.” And so, we started working together, and I just immediately fell in love with what I was doing for her. I was helping her manage her team stuff, her customer stuff, her emails, and we just continued growing our partnership. And, later that year, I decided it was time to really invest in my business and invest in myself, and I hired my first coach. And, the first order of business was, “Whitney, you need to niche down. You need to narrow in your focus.” I had, like, four different clients, all in these different realms; I was working more than I ever had. And, I was like, “This is not the time freedom that I signed up for.”
So, that’s when I really took a long, hard look at what I enjoyed most. And I was like, “I want to do more of what I’m doing for this direct sales client, because I love it. And, I’m good at it. And, I’m managing,” and that’s what I’ve always done and what I’ve always been good at. And so, that was pretty much the catalyst for me going all in at the end of 2020. I went all in, and I narrowed my focus in on this industry, and as they say, the rest is history.
So exciting! So, for those that have never heard the term “OBM,” or “online business manager,” could you elaborate a little bit more on that? Tell us how you elevated your role from being more of a VA or a virtual assistant to more of an OBM, and how that looks different?
So, there are definitely some specialties that OBMs really step into. And, I would say, for the most part, “virtual assistant” is more of an umbrella term. And, I don’t say this to knock virtual assistants, because there’s a time and a place for each; it really depends on your goals and what you’re wanting most in your business. But, online business manager is a little bit of a step up in that typically we have fewer clients. We’re more specialized. And, in my case, I’m coming on as a true partner in your business. I’m not just somebody who you hand tasks off to; I’m somebody who comes in, and I will take over that task. I will manage it. I will potentially see the strategy behind it. I’ll come to you with feedback on it.
One thing I do with my clients is have quarterly deep-dive sessions, where we take a look at our current scope of work, and we look at what’s working and what’s not, and we decide where we have to tweak, and we look at goals and make sure everything’s aligning. So, not to say a virtual assistant couldn’t do that. But typically, an OBM is more of a true partnership, where I take over certain aspects of the business to allow my clients to really step out of that management role and into that leadership role.
I’m sure there are a lot of direct sellers thinking, “Am I at a point in my business that a VA or an OBM makes sense for me?” Can you tell us a little bit more about who your ideal clients are and what that partnership looks like when you’re working with them?
So, I guess I can tell you who my ideal clients aren’t first. They’re typically not a person who’s just dipping their toe in this industry. My ideal client is somebody who has likely been in the industry for 4 or 5 or 6 years. They could be working their full-time job still, but typically, they’re either working their full-time direct sale job, or they’re on their way to moving full-time. And likely, they have seen a lot of success. And, they’re probably trying to catch up a little bit. They’re like, “Oh, my gosh, I’ve seen so much success. I built this big team, and oh yeah. I kind of need some systems in place. I need to rein things in if I want to continue on this trajectory and this growth path.” They’re really looking for a true partner to bring on so that they can step out of so much of that management in their business.
And, as that partnership progresses, I typically start to see my clients show up as better moms and wives and business owners, and they lean into different aspects of their businesses. I have a current client who, while I’m taking over a lot of the day-to-day management, she’s really leaning into the coaching aspect of her business. So, I’m freeing them up and giving them that margin to really take on more leadership and more ownership of certain things in their business and grow in the ways that they really want.
And, as someone who takes on that management role, I know you’re a total systems girl. Tell us what five crucial systems you love that can really help direct sellers grow in scale.
Yes! So, when I say “system,” I don’t want that to sound overwhelming. I’d say the simpler the system, the better. So, do not think that things have to be complicated and tricky.
Number One for me is social media. There’s no denying that social media is imperative for social sellers. It’s often the lifeblood of your business. You want to be sharing products and the opportunities they bring, and you want to gain new customers and eventually new team members. And so, to get results, you need to create more of what people resonate with on social media. I’m all about looking at analytics, so I recommend developing a system for picking a schedule and sticking to it. I’ve had the same social media system for my own business for the last three years or so that has been manageable for me, and I hold myself to it. Developing more of your personal brand is also a huge part of social media, as is creating a content bank so that you don’t have to guess what you’re going to post each day. All of those things working at once will help you stay consistent with your social media, which is such a huge part of your business.
Lead gen is Number Two. So, getting in front of new eyeballs, obviously, is important to growth. But, throwing spaghetti at the wall is not going to yield the results that you want. Instead, it’s imperative to have intentional time. Set aside even 15 minutes a day to intentionally focus on creating relationships, or set a goal of finding five new leads a week, or save warm leads into your Instagram folders—all of this is part of a cohesive lead gen system to help you consistently get in front of new people and develop those relationships. Because, as we know, that is a huge part of growing your social selling business.
So, let’s say you’re in that 15 minutes you set aside for the day and you’re trying to find new, ideal clients. If you find them on social media, it can be as simple as sending them a quick message—that has nothing to do with business. Like, “Hey, I noticed this in your profile, and I resonate with that.” Then, save them to a prospecting folder that you can come back to. It’s all about that consistency and getting in the rhythm of connecting with people and getting in front of new eyeballs. And, too, this goes back to having a good social media system in place, because it’s one thing to get in front of new eyeballs. But, if they’re landing back on your profile, you want to make sure that you have engaging content in there.
And then, Number Three is having a good system for team support. So, obviously, if you’ve seen any type of success in this industry, you’ve likely built some sort of team. And, adding new team members is important, but you also can’t forget about retaining them; it’s important for your team to want to stick around. So, having systems for things like shout-outs and value-added content and showing how you, yourself, are running your business are super important. And, my tip for that is to make sure that you’re leading versus managing. Maybe you’re setting aside one day a week to shout out a team member. Any simple system that can go a long way in terms of team support.
And then, we can’t forget about customers, of course. Everybody wants repeat buyers, and you want your customers to feel valued and nurtured, and it’s important to bring new customers in. But, this is the same when it comes to the retention piece. Ask yourself how you can continually build trust with your customers. You shouldn’t only be going to them when sales pop up or when you’re wanting them to buy something. Think about those follow-ups, that value-added content, or those special occasions that are important and easy to use. And again, pick certain days a week to do follow-ups, or scheduling, or posts in your Facebook Groups that have absolutely nothing to do with your product. Take easy, actionable steps.
And then, Number Five is email marketing, which I think is a very underutilized tool. So, I always say, “You have such good stuff to share besides just your products,” and you also have to stay top of mind for your community, your customers, your team members, and anyone else that’s coming into your funnel. Email marketing is such a powerful way to further connect with your audience that’s separate from social media. And, you own your list, so those days when Instagram decides to go dark, you’re not lost, and you’re not scrambling.
And, I know that it can be overwhelming to start email marketing. So, I always suggest starting small, using it as a simple way to build trust with your customers or your team. And then, when you’re ready to expand, developing an easy, no-brainer type of freebie to promote, and that can help really grow your list even further.
I love that. And, like you said, getting started in these systems or prioritizing them can be challenging. And, I get this question over and over again from members inside our Modern Direct Seller Academy: “I want to do all the things. Yes, Whitney, those five systems are amazing. But, I don’t have anything set up. Where do I begin?” So, what would be your best recommendation for anyone thinking, “That all sounds dreamy, but really, where do I get started to build these systems, because I want to scale, and I want to see my business grow?”
I think you always have to start with the end goal in mind. Start with your Number One overarching goal, and then work backwards from there. So, if you look at it like, “Okay, this is my year to recruit more and build my team,” start there, and work your way backwards, and say, “Okay, let’s break that down a little more. What is that going to require of me? Is that going to require me to get more consistent on social media? Is that going to require me to get more visible with new leads?” I think that can really help hone in on where your time is going to be best spent. And, that might require you to put a little more effort into social media and spend more intentional time making new connections and get more consistent with those types of things. But yes, starting with the end goal in mind, and really honing in from there to help eliminate all the shiny objects in your way.
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Take Action: What is one way that you could use your time and energy more effectively?