Vince De Benedetto of Automated Dreams helps clients with sales automation to book qualified appointments. He leverages tools to get prospects into the sales funnel and follows up with them to get them to book calls. He doesn’t do any outbound sales to bring in his own clients – he’s getting tons of referrals from happy customers to keep his entire agency busy.
They don’t do any outbound. Everything is organic and inbound. They built channels and certifications to be able to be listed on their sites. He’s a top-level partner for ManyChat, DesignPickle, and others. They’re getting 10-15 requests for calls per week.
Check them out here: https://www.automateddreams.com/
Here’s the video interview:
Here’s the full transcript:
Ryan Shank: All right guys. Welcome back to another episode of growing your agency. I’m your host Ryan shank today. Super excited. We have Vince, the Bene Detto from automated dreams. Vince, thanks for joining us today.
Vince De Benedetto: Thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here.
Ryan Shank: Yeah, this is, this is awesome. So I was checking you guys out and I’ve heard a lot of good things about, um, about your company and you guys don’t position yourself as an agency. Tell me a little bit about that kind of mindset and philosophy.
Vince De Benedetto: Yeah, totally. Um, I guess for me, when I started my company, um, you know, I started out as, as a consultant, um, for a particular CRM for ontraport. Um, and a lot of my clients who would come to me and they’d say, great, you did this piece of the funnel. You did this piece in ontraport. Can you also do this? And I’d often say, no, I can’t do that, or let me refer you out to So-and-so. Um, and nine times out of 10, referring out, um, ended up using like being bad. And so the same sort of thing applied to me recruiting those people in house as it was needed. Um, just couldn’t control the quality. Um, so like we don’t position ourselves as an agency cause everyone we have in house, we’re, we’re a team of 13 or 14 right now. Um, we’ve had then for a long time, we know their quality.
Vince De Benedetto: Um, we secure their quality. And I think something we do that not a lot of traditional agencies do is we provide like a, a minimum retainer for every contract that works with us. So like, if we don’t use their hours for that month and they just one like, like we pay them for 40 hours a month minimum, and they just only work 10 hours, then great. They just pocketed another 30 hours. Um, but that just gave security for the contractors and they stick with us and they like us. Um, really, uh, what we do at automated dreams, just try to harbor a community that is full of entrepreneurs and hopefully we’re building them up with the tools.
Ryan Shank: That’s awesome. And then how, how are you sourcing a lot of the talent that, um, for your, for your team?
Vince De Benedetto: Yeah. Um, honestly a lot of it’s upwork, um, and sort of sourcing is really, really hard. Uh, there’s certain positions that we’ve tried to recruit for a year and a half or two. Um, just like really specialized stuff. Um, yeah, it took me like two, almost two years to find someone like could like replace me in terms of ontraport work so I could be the CEO of the company and not have to do the higher level strategy. Um, so the talent pool, it’s, it’s really, uh, it’s still, it’s pretty small for some specialized to work.
Ryan Shank: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So, so tell me, I guess about a typical engagement that you’ll have with a client, you know, um, and you know, I’m curious to hear, you know, how you’re acquiring clients and then also sort of like what the actual engagement and scope of services looks like.
Vince De Benedetto: Yeah. So I think I have, it’s a funny, like I get targeted on Linkedin and ads and it’s all for a problem that probably 99% of agency owners have. But I don’t have, it’s like, are you not getting enough leads? Like we can fill your, your calendar with calls, then I’m like, please, no more calls. Yeah, yeah. Everything. We don’t do any sort of paid traffic, paid marketing, no outbound reach. Everything’s purely or granted that comes to us. Um, and it’s because, um, and making sure that like basically I pay for my certification so that can be listed on their site. Um, and same thing with many chat as an agency. Um, like a top level partner with a company called design pickle and working on a couple of other ones. But that’s where we get all of our leads from. Um, and their support teams will just like send like, oh, automated dreams can help you with that. So yeah. You know, like 10 to 15 calls, um, like requests for calls a week. Uh, the people that need our services and this isn’t people, you know, filling out a quick contact form that’s going to our website and filling out all the information you ask. Um, right.
Ryan Shank: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That’s interesting. Cause I’ve, I’ve recently done a few things. I keep getting ads for design pickle and I actually want to try it cause I do like their creatives and I’ve heard good things. Um, but recently I’ve actually, and I’ve used them all in the past, you know, Fiverr and upwork and that sort of thing. But recently I’ve been going to 99 designs and not posting the contest but actually sort of a, I guess going to their like fulfillment side of the house, which I’m assuming would be an agency like yourself or someone like that. Right. To have, you know, they have like a, a short list of top agencies that then we’ll just like do the project versus having to like, you know, create the context for it, like their traditional model. So, um, that is, that is interesting. Kind of getting fed these like jobs from, you know, these, these like uh, consumer marketplaces. Essentially, um, without having to like, then go and kind of bid against like 800 other people that are in like, you know, all these other countries. So they’re all, it’s a race to the bottom.
Vince De Benedetto: Yeah. And we’re, we don’t target ourselves as the cheapest. We target ourselves as like the best. Um, and yeah, so our pricing is like, yeah, I’m like, I want to upwork just as a consultant. Like that’s how I used to get leads in the beginning. Um, and I just get pure invites like maybe two or three a day. Um, and every so often I’ll just get like an offer like here to start working with us. Cause I’m like, ah, man, there’s like two 50 an hour. And they’re like, okay, here’s the job for you. Like we don’t even need to like interview you. Um, so really in like in this area of people, there are so many agencies, so much talent out there. Some people have the money to spend, they’re bigger companies and as long as they see the ratings and they see like your prices premium, like they have a lot to burn through. Um, so like the higher the price, like right now it seems like the quicker we close.
Ryan Shank: That’s crazy. I mean I’ll also, I mean if you think about it just from, I mean it’s a little bit, uh, you know, a contrarion thought, but it’s like the higher the price, I mean I guess it’s a normal thought, but the higher the price, the higher likelihood that the client is like larger has a bigger budget, that sort of thing views you as a, as higher quality as well. And he’s like also ready to pull the trigger. Um, I guess the only flip side from that, what I’ve seen is that sometimes these people with like these really, really, really large companies like they’re forced to go down like an RFP process or then it’s more of like submit the, you know, submit the proposal, uh, and then kind of go, go down that path. So I don’t know if you guys have seen that.
Vince De Benedetto: Yeah. Not so much. Like I got a request for proposal the other week and I’m like, this is just so much. And like, yeah, if I wasn’t getting in late, it’s like, sure, I’d spend enough five hours on this, but I don’t know if it’s worth it.
Ryan Shank: Right, right, right. Yeah. So what are a lot of the jobs that you’re doing? Is it a lot of kind of like cleanup? Like I’m looking at, you know, services page seems like, you know, there’s obviously a lot of like, you know, tools that you’ve mastered. So as a people like, hey, we just kind of come in here and, you know, hook up my click funnels to, to this, build a funnel for us. Or is it like kind of more end-to-end, hey, from ideation, can you help us execute on this project strategy?
Vince De Benedetto: Yeah, so it took, it took a while for me to finally like hone down in like 60 seconds, like who we are as a company. I’m like, part of my personality is like, I like trying a lot of different things and like the first year I tried to, you know, 10 different ways of billing and 10 different ways of like, working with folks and like, you know, 90% of those fail. Um, and had I not tried those 10 things, like I probably still wouldn’t have been in business. And so like that 10% of stuff that’s working, like just through testing and improving as a company and our offerings is what it’s like keeping us like thriving. Um, and so we, uh, everything that we do starts with, um, like business processes and business process mapping. So we start with all of our clients. Um, it’s sort of like an onboarding requirement that we go through all of their systems, what they’re using, what they’re not using, what’s working well, not working well, and then their overall business goals and strategies.
Vince De Benedetto: Um, and to then, you know, evaluate like, is your business tech tech set up to, um, support you in those goals, support you in reaching those goals like five years from now. Um, and then like from there, we map out with the right tech stack is for them and what the project phases are for them to get to their goals. Whether or not we do it. Um, but then that helps our team have a 30,000 foot view of their company. And oftentimes that’s first, I’m like the kind of 30,000 foot view of their company. So yeah, we, uh, we come in and we clean your foundations up. So that’s what we do. And then we have complimentary services to help implement that
Ryan Shank: forces us to zoom out a bit. I, you know, everyone’s kind of so like in the trenches, so like narrow focus that it’s like, hey, let’s zoom out and see why we’re doing this.
Vince De Benedetto: Yeah. Like I had someone come to me from my many chat lists and wanting like, probably like a $400 Bot build. And I’m like, that’s not the problem here. That’s not why you’re making, not making sales. And like basically like we’re professional organizers and like the business, like a technology sense, like let’s dump everything out. Like your problem is you don’t have a clear brand identity. You don’t have the clear systems to help you, bro. Um, and then next thing you know, like he’s like, here you go, here’s 10,000 bucks. Like Cheryl, I’ll buy that proposal. Right, right, right. Okay. From $400 to $10,000, like yeah, we don’t do one off projects. Um, because it’s a quick way to get into problems and also scope. You also do this real quick. And as a business agency owner you’re probably like, oh sure, I can cover that. And the next thing that you’re covering a lot of stuff.
Ryan Shank: Yeah. You’re just getting hit with these little like kind of like freelance type projects and then you’re not able to zoom out and do the, do the larger, the larger items. Um, so talk to me about your team. So how, how big is the team? I think you said earlier you guys are all remote. Um, but what is the kind of makeup of the team? Is it mostly salespeople? Is it, you know, engineers?
Vince De Benedetto: Um, so I always have, I think we’re between 13 and 15 folks right now. Okay. Um, and like a core team of around eight or nine that’s been with us for like a year and a half or two. Um, and so I’m just the main sales person right now. Um, like that flip side of the con of trying 10 things at once is that I can’t train a salesperson to like these conversations. Like I have organic leads coming in, but every conversation is sort of different. Um, and so we’re in the process of, of niching into certain builds. Um, so we can build up our sales team. Um, but then we have about two project managers in house. Um, we have a business operations manager. Um, so basically he’s the one keeping the business running. What if I don’t have to? Um, we have, uh, automation.
Ryan Shank: Okay. Because I’m actually curious about that. I was talking with someone last night. I think we need that. Um, but yeah, w what are they doing? I mean, are they looking at making sure reporting is airtight? Are they kind of drive in one on ones? Like what, what does that role look like?
Vince De Benedetto: Yeah, so I mean, something I learned like, uh, at my last conference I went to and like I’m in a mentorship program with design pickle. It’s that generalists are the ones that you need to recruit early on in your business structure. Because those are the people that build your business. Like once you have this strong generalist, then you can hire the specialists to build their company that’s been working. He’s just like super general, like he’s also having ownership in the company so it doesn’t feel like I’m the only one with like ownership of if the company fails or succeeds. He’s on salary now. Uh, you know, we gave him a, a bonus and you know, he’s fully invested in the company. Um, and his day to day, um, really like there’s two kinds of people. I thought there was two kinds of people. There’s people who like make mistakes and don’t ask questions and there’s people who ask questions to avoid mistakes.
Vince De Benedetto: Sure. But like he’s one who he won’t ask questions, he’ll go research on his own and he’ll find it out. He’ll like, here’s the plan I’ve created. Like, here’s what needs to be done better. Like, can I go ahead and do this? And I’m like, dude, like you just did all like my for me. Like you’re the third person who researches like ask questions to others and then like presents me with like the final product. Um, so he’s been handling all of this small like admin pieces like and uh, yeah, sort of everything, but we’re taking the hats off of him. Like my philosophy
Speaker 3: [inaudible]
Vince De Benedetto: position I wouldn’t want and that’s like doing jobs that I like, duties that I hate. So anything I ask people when I onboard them. Like, what about this position do you not like doing because we can easily take that off your plate. Yeah. Cause if people are doing things day to day that they hate doing, they’re not going to stick with you.
Ryan Shank: Definitely. Um, we ran into that recently. I had someone that, it was just day to day in the trenches and I think she got burnt out. So, but it’s like, it’s the nature. I, you know, the other thing that I guess we were having struggle, we were having problems with is like, you know, how do you create like growth in such a small organization when it’s like you’re at such a point where it’s like, hey, we just need to knit, go heads down and kind of like do these things. We’re not, you know, in a place, you know, and I think like as leaders it’s our job to at least maybe paint the bigger vision and like show them that there is that path of growth. But you know, uh, I think it ultimately has to come from within for them to be like motivated to just kind of like grind it out and just to do those things for at least some period of time.
Vince De Benedetto: Yeah. Well, and we’re also in like an age where there’s so many systems out there. Like if you’re, if you build it smart, like I’m proud of like the systems we have in place internally. Um, cause um, yeah, like something we’re having a really hard time recruiting for is a virtual assistant because like 95% of the admin and clerical tasks are already automated. So it’s like the 5% we need them for. It’s, it’s hard to find someone who just specializes in that 5% that we can automate away. So a lot of those tasks people hate is, it’s pretty much automated away. Um, and so we rely on like these key foundational, um, softwares instead of having like 20 different software stuff, most companies will end up having.
Ryan Shank: Yeah, totally. It. Um, interesting. All right. Awesome. So we’re gonna wrap up in just a second to talk to me about your, your pricing models. So, and a pricing model. How many clients, you know, if you don’t want to say total number, interesting to here, you know, a range of clients and, you know, how do you scale from there? Um, and then, yeah, then we can wrap up.
Speaker 3: None.
Vince De Benedetto: Gotcha. Yeah. So pricing model, um, we, uh, tried to completely ditch the whole one off project, hourly rate model. And if we do, um, then there’s an agreement that the cra or the credit cards on file, uh, you know, we, we tell them we auto charge every two weeks and so we never have to deal with here’s an invoice, can you please pay? Can you please pay? I’m like, I’ve never had that problem from the get go. Like I tried to be leaning on that and I’ve had that problem, so I’m like, nope. Um, or it’s like, here’s a fixed price. Um, and then rather than setting my like payment plan price as the fixed price, you know, like that’s the price I said, like the discounted rate as my price, like if you pay in full, and then I just add on like an additional margin if they have a payment plan.
Vince De Benedetto: Um, but that payment plans 50% upfront, 25% in two weeks, and then the final 25% is going to be collected at this state no matter what. Um, and that’s just what works really well. Um, especially the fixed price model. Like if you just charge more for in cover things. So there’s like a 1% chance I’ll ever be a conversation of scope overages. The clients happy because they just want to know what they’re spending. Um, and that’s been working really well with us. And we also were kind of retainer model, um, where it’s like a use it or lose it every month, um, within your retainer. Like all of our team’s rates are discounted at this certain point. And if you ever go over, we just charge the overage on the additional month, I’m at their regular rates. Um, so yeah, we have a few different pricing models. We also have products, but I won’t go into that. Um, and then you said types of clients are like how many clients we currently have.
Vince De Benedetto: So, uh, I think currently have around 20 to 25 clients, active clients. Um, and really we’re trying to, uh, fade some out that are smaller projects so we can take on bigger ones, um, cause 10 smaller claims, find some if there’s 10 different egos to deal with and 10 different points of context to keep happy. Um, so we’re trying to consolidate a bit in that. Um, yeah, and sort of, uh, we’re lucky in the sense that what we offer in terms of business automation and process mapping is not a heavily, um, competitive market. So I that’s like our niche. But uh, yeah, we’re trying to niche more so we can have a, a paid sales team. Um, yeah, that covered everything. Yeah, that was awesome. Then final question, we always ask everyone, what is your morning routine? Oh God, don’t ask me that. So I hit mute. I take the strength finders test and that’s like on the bottom. Like I hate routine, but I joined this mastermind. It’s a with design pickle, it’s called the expand program and it’s really pushed me on, there’s a routine every morning, um, supposed to have done before eight 30. There’s four core areas of your life. I’m in business since the last fall.
Vince De Benedetto: It’s with, you’re familiar with it is like being like how you are internally and then like the first and foremost is your body. Um, so like you’re supposed to hit those four areas and each of them have two parts to it. So with your body, like I tried to sweat every day, so I go to orange theory in the morning, like six o’clock. Um, try to have like a green smoothie, not try. I actually have a green smoothie and then meditate and journal and then you deposit into your relationship, your partner, like with the just like giving like a compliment or like gratitude. Appreciate it too. Um, and also doing the same thing with your friends or family. And then with business it’s taking the time to discover something new and then once you discover that you stop and then declare it to someone, you declare it on social media, declare it to your, your business members. Um, because when you declare like a discovery, that’s when it really locks into your mind. And so doing all of those four things within a two hour range every morning, that like sets you up for the day.
Ryan Shank: Got It. Yeah.
Vince De Benedetto: I noticed when I don’t like exercise in the morning, it never really feels like I got my day started.
Ryan Shank: Yeah. Like you’re still just kind of like you’re, no, you’re never separating that. Yeah. Fluttering around. Um. All right. Awesome. Vince automated dreams. Thank you so much for joining us today. Uh, where can everyone find you?
Vince De Benedetto: Uh, you can find firstname.lastname@example.org,
Ryan Shank: automated dreams.com. Alright, Vince debenture. Ditto. Automated Dreams. Thank you so much for joining us and we will see you later. Awesome. Alright.