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Guest Lecturer Melissa Pharr on How to Lead
a Team Toward Six-Figures or More

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elcome to Summer School everyone!
It’s mid-July and while we expect you’re all busy soaking up the sunshine, we also know that many of you are probably thinking about your next big product launch. Perhaps it’s time to hire the team that will help you reach your goal? We think so—and so does this week’s special guest lecturer.

Over the past year I’ve watched my superstar client Melissa Pharr complete three successful six-figure launches—and now she’s on her way to seven figures. One of her greatest strengths has been leadership, so when Mel and I got together during The Entrepreneur Retreat on the Amalfi Coast last month, we realized now was the perfect moment for her to divulge all her secrets so we could share them with you here.

Divine Living caught up with Ms. Pharr recently to ask her all our most pressing questions when it comes to team building, strategy and management. Whether you’ve yet to make your first hire or are ready to expand your staff into the double digits, in this class Mel has broken down all the elements of planning for an epic fall launch. Enjoy!

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Why should we be starting to prep our launches now?
It’s so important to plan ahead and get organized. I typically like to map out all the big dates at least 90 days in advance. It’s essential to determine: When does the cart open? When does it close? Is there an early bird? How many people do you want in your program? How big should your community be to make this launch successful? What are the different launch components you’re going to use? Launches can look different for everyone depending on what you’re selling and the price point. In my business, we generally like to keep the cart open for four weeks. Other people will say limit it to four days, while if you look at the Divine Living Academy launch, it is available for months. So there’s a full spectrum for how you can have a successful launch, as long as you have a plan for what you’re going to sell and how. Once you have an idea of the size of your launch and what it’s going to take to make it successful, you can look at all the different components and figure out what players you’ll need to hire. If you’re aiming to do something bigger than you’ve ever done before, chances are it’s time to staff up because you simply cannot do it all yourself.

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What’s the first game-changing hire we should be making and how much should we be paying them?
No matter where you’re at in your business, it’s never too early to bring on at least one VA and a book keeper or accountant. They’ll start freeing you up to spend more time in your zone of genius. You do not want to be doing back-end web work, scheduling clients in your calendar, following up with clients about payment when a credit card doesn’t go through, or counting your receipts (not a moneymaking activity). Seriously, a VA is a total game changer. If you feel like you don’t know what to do with one, here’s a trick I learned from Gina. Keep a document on your computer called, “Who else can do this?” Every time you find yourself doing something you could pay someone else to do, add it to the list. Within a week you’ll see there’s a lot of time you would free up and a lot more you could accomplish with the right support. I currently have a team of three VAs—one who is focused on customer support, one who takes care of the backend CRM and another who does a bit of both and oversees projects. A virtual assistant working on the front-end of your business may earn $20-50 an hour, whereas someone more specialized in a CRM system like Infusionsoft and Ontraport who’s getting heavily involved in campaign work could charge anywhere from $40-100 an hour.

Who else should be on our six-figure dream team?
Firstly, a launch manager. A launch can be such a rollercoaster and a very emotional time, so having someone who knows all the components as well as you do and is handling execution makes a big difference. This is someone who’ll be able to tell you, “Here’s the percent that your sales page is converting at. Here’s your click through rate, here’s your open rate” and analyze all of that for you. You can bring someone in on a project basis and negotiate a flat rate or work with them over the course of a year on retainer. Typically I will spend about $4800 per launch on the manager role. I also recommend bringing on a designer to make sure all your content and images look good and are on brand. To give you an example of rates again, I hired a designer I found on Upwork who happens to be in the Philippines. I pay her $20 an hour to work on my modules which is equal to a six-figure salary for her. Though most designers you see in the industry will charge at least $75 an hour. With all positions, there is a range. You CAN find people online who do amazing work for even $8 or $12 an hour. However that may not be what you want. My team players are people who I’ve been with for a long time. They’re growing with the company, they live in The States and they may come to certain events to support. It’s important to me that the core of my people be in that situation. You might also like to work with a social media agency. I have one on retainer doing all my Facebook ads and organic advertising via Instagram and Twitter—designing and running and managing all of it. It started out at $2500 a month and we’ve increased it to $3500 and it’s fantastic—they’re growing all my platforms. Ultimately what you have to be smart about is to really look at, how many hours are these people saving you? Based on the campaigns that you’re putting together, what kind of money is that making you so that you’re really clear on whether you’re making a good return on your investment or not. For my team, it’s a no brainer. I think that’s that.

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How do we find the right players?
I know a lot of women entrepreneurs struggle in this area and I definitely get asked about it all the time. Honestly I have never had trouble hiring a VA (or most of the roles on my team). I’ve realized there are a couple of reasons for this and the first is mindset. There are so many business owners out there who have it in their heads that nobody can do what they do as fast or as well as they can. Which may seem like the case when you first bring a new team member on, but it’s ultimately not true. And even if it was true, it would keep you in a position of spending your time on non-moneymaking tasks, so it doesn’t even matter. Yes, you want the work to be quality. But if you have a belief that other people can’t do things as well, as fast; if you believe that talent and the right team members are really hard to find, then I don’t care where you look—you’re going to have a difficult time. So the first thing to do is realize that there are people out there who are far better at whatever you want done who you can hand it off to.

They’re all over the place. Try adding to your daily mindset practice: “My team is amazing. It’s easy for me to find fantastic people. I never run out of people who are willing to support me and I trust that other people can do things better than I can.” If you go in believing that, you’re headed in the right direction. The next important thing is having clear expectations. So often I hear people saying they’re overwhelmed, they need a VA. Next thing I hear is, “Well I gave them a couple of things…but I don’t know what else to do with them.” If that’s the mental state you’re in when you hired someone, clearly there’s not a specific list of things or expectations, so of course it’s not working out. You want to have a really clear picture of who your ideal team member is and exactly what they’ll be handling for you. Whether you’re reaching out to friends and colleagues or posting online and in social networks, if you aren’t articulating exactly what you’re looking for—you’re not going to find it. When I go into a Facebook group, I can say, “I am looking for this person. Here are all the tasks they need to be able to do. This is the turnaround time that I would like. Here are the characteristics of this person. Here’s who this is not for. If you know this person, if you are this person, please get in touch.” I find people every time. There’s always somebody around you who knows somebody, you just have to be resourceful and communicate what you want clearly. When I found my third VA, I asked my videographer, “I’m looking for somebody who is as organized as I am, who is 20 steps ahead of me all the time, very detail oriented and never forgets anything.” Of course I’ve never met anyone like that so you’d think it wasn’t possible, but she goes, “I actually know someone like that. She doesn’t know anything about the industry, but she’s my assistant.” I sent her an email and interviewed her on the phone twice. She’s been with me for almost a year now and is absolutely incredible. She’s learned Infusionsoft, she designs PDFS and she hardly ever makes a mistake!

So now that we have our dates planned, our strategy determined and our team lined up, what’s the first step we should be taking?
Around the 90 day mark, I typically start polling my audience and my people to find out, what are people talking about non-stop? What can they not get enough of? What questions are they asking? What are they so happy to opt-in for? Once I have that inspiration and connection to my clients, I start designing my pre-launch content that will build my list and attract my ideal clients—that means everything that prepares them to want to invest in the group program I’ll be revealing weeks later. As for promotion, I always have three or four different strategies in play for a big launch. We might do a video series, live-streaming, a promotional sequence and live content like webinars. Around 60 days out my team will start designing ads for that content, setting up any affiliate programs and then as we get closer, updating modules for the program. Creating everything in advance is super important, because if you’re doing it as you go your team won’t have the bandwidth to make changes.

What’s the common mistake we should avoid when we start working with our team?
I think a lot of us are really impatient people who aren’t willing to train or we don’t know how to communicate. While you have to have clear expectations of who you want on your team, you cannot expect that anyone will be a superstar the second they come in. Even if they are a superstar, they don’t know how your company works. They don’t know what your systems are. (And most people who are going out and hiring teams don’t even have a system, which is what causes the failure in the team member to begin with.) A dream team doesn’t happen overnight, you have to be willing to develop it. You may hire someone talented, but if you’re not there guiding them at the beginning, encouraging them and complimenting them and then also giving them changes, then they’ll never have the opportunity to meet your expectations. Because I will tell you, every single member on my team came in with things I wanted them to do better or that I wanted done differently.

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What’s your strategy for bringing a team member into your way of thinking?
The biggest thing I do is the second that anything is done in any way that is not perfect for me, I have no shame about reaching out right away—it shortens the learning curve. However I’m also conscious about the way I communicate. The automatic response if we don’t like something is often, “Hey, this is a problem. You did this wrong.” (Or people say nothing at all and fix it themselves.) Instead what you should say is, “Here’s what I really loved about what you did. Here are the pieces that I think I’d like done differently, and this is how I’d like them done differently. I would like them done in this amount of time. Are you available for that? Is there any reason that’s not possible? Okay, great. Let’s move forward and know that this is always the way things will be done. By the way, thanks again for everything that’s been so great.” If you go to someone and you want something done differently, it’s much more likely that they’re going to be cooperative and excited if you can genuinely appreciate something in them. There’s always something about a human that you can appreciate. So be particular about your wording and lead them toward the change. You can say, “Here’s what I would love to have done differently or here’s what I’m really looking for.”

How do you handle it when an urgent mistake is made?
I’ll be honest and say that everybody is human. There have been times in my launches when I’ve gotten really angry, when there’s been a mistake that I thought was unacceptable. There’ve been times when I’ve had to check myself and postpone the conversation until I calmed down because I couldn’t be professional. My rule for myself is that no matter who I’m talking to or how much I love them, I always walk away proud of who I’ve chosen to be, or at the very least not embarrassed. If that means not talking, I just don’t. But for most of the time with my team, I just love them all so much that I’m just like, “Eek!” I will put, “Urgent,” in the email subject. There’s no me going really soft. If it’s something that I really think shouldn’t be happening, then I’ll just say, “This is what happened. It really needs to be changed as soon as possible. Please confirm as soon as these changes are made. What can we do to make sure this doesn’t happen again and that this is taken care of really soon?” I like to let my team know that I’m really not happy about something, but I don’t go to a place where I’m throwing a tantrum, which is really important to maintain respect.

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For more from Melissa Pharr, visit: MelissaPharr

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