Mark Daoust Business and Sales Experience for Young Entrepreneurs
Few days ago, I received an unexpected, yet great email from the Founder of Quiet Light Brokerage, Mark Daoust. “Hey Charles, I’m spending my Tuesday looking through helpful articles like yours that offer career advice to aspiring Entrepreneurs and/or young business people. I wanted to reach out and tell you a little bit about myself if that is okay!…”
Quiet Light Brokerage is a leading voice and authority in the emerging niche of selling and buying of profitable websites. In the About us page on Quiet Light Brokerage website, a section read; “If we are honest, selling websites professionally is harder than we originally thought. But with each transaction we learned lessons, improved our processes, and refined our approach to be more effective.
Today we can look back on over 500 websites sold and over $100,000,000 in total transaction value. Even though we are recognized as one of the most successful website brokers in the marketplace, we still take an attitude of continual improvement to our processes.”
The email has led to this great interview on sales and business start-up with Mark Daoust sharing his experiences and insights. I hope Mark’s experience help improve your sales skills and skyrocket your business success.
Interviewing mark Daoust
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
The biggest hurdle in starting Quiet Light Brokerage was our relative lack of experience.
When we take on a client, that client is hiring us to help them sell something that is really valuable: their online business. Naturally, they want to hire someone who has a lot of experience in selling online businesses.
So when I started Quiet Light Brokerage, I was often asked questions like “how long have you been doing this?”, or “how many websites have you sold?”
It was always tempting to try and make myself look bigger or more experienced than I actually was.
Instead of doing that, however, I decided to be as blunt and honest with potential clients as possible. I would explain to them that we just started the business and that I had recently sold my own online business. It helped that I had been fairly well published already, so I would invite them to do a search on my name so they knew I was.
I did lose some clients with this approach, but I also gained a lot of clients who appreciated the honesty.
What was your business’ original mission? How has that mission evolved in the time since?
When we started in 2007, our mission was to help entrepreneurs sell their profitable and established websites.
Today, our mission has evolved into helping entrepreneurs plan their exit, position their businesses properly, and consult with them to give them the most profitable exit possible.
We have also worked hard to bring a higher level of transparency and honesty to our industry.
What were your biggest sales strategy and how did you put them to work for you?
Our biggest sales strategy is somewhat counter-intuitive because of the nature of our service.
Most services or products can be sold to a client as a way to help them in some way. In the B2B space, this usually speaks to helping a client grow their business, or provide them with useful date, or greater efficiencies.
In our business, our service represents an “end of the line” for a business owner. Entrepreneurs come to use when they want to move on from one of their projects.
Because of this, our sales strategy is to be exceedingly patient and to never push anyone into a sale.
Selling a business is a major decision. We want our clients to be sure they are ready to take that step.
Did you have major competitors when you started, how did you plan to compete with them, and how did that plan play out?
I didn’t have a lot of competitors, but there were a few well established companies in our space.
To be honest, I didn’t plan to compete with them at all. We’ve always done well when we focus on our own business rather than on the others in our space. From time to time I will check on competitors to see if there is anything they are doing that we should also incorporate into or business, but as long as we are staying focused on providing the best service possible for our clients, the competition will work itself out.
What do you look for in a business partner?
Honesty is the top quality I look for. I have to know I can trust the person I am going in business with.
Honesty is much more than not telling lies. It also entails keeping your word. Most partnerships break down when one partner believes the other partner isn’t living up to their original expectations.
If you partner with someone who values honesty, I believe this greatly reduces the chances of a partnership gone bad.
How did you build a consumer culture around your product?
I’m not sure if this really applies to our services…
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business and sales’ success?
It is easily the people that I’ve brought on board our team.
At Quiet Light Brokerage, we only bring on brokers who are entrepreneurs themselves. Every member of our team has bought, sold, and started their own significant online business. They are all independently successful as well.
This dynamic helps us approach our clients in a much more consultative way: one entrepreneur helping another entrepreneur out. Having the practical experience of buying, selling, and starting our own businesses also gives us the advantage of being able to understand first-hand what our clients are experiencing.
How do you believe evolving technology will impact the way you make your sales over the next 10 years?
It will impact us in a few ways.
First, our client’s businesses will most likely be much different 10 years from now as the web continues to evolve. When I first started Quiet Light Brokerage, one of our competitive advantages was that we knew the ins and outs of the online world be cause we worked in it every day. We will need to remain active in order to keep this advantage.
Second, within our own business, evolving technology will impact the way we related with our buyers and sellers. Much of what we do in our business involves building relationships. Technology is improving the way we communicate, and that is something we will continue to incorporate in or processes.
What do you know today about products and sales that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
Just how important the soft side of sales really is.
It’s tempting to think that selling high value assets such as online businesses is entirely wrapped up in understanding technical analysis, valuations approaches, and business metrics. But the reality is that every transaction is made by people who naturally have concerns about whether or not they are doing the right thing.
This is a lesson I continually learn and see in this industry.
What 3 books on sales would you recommend that every entrepreneur read?
Essentialism by Greg McKeown – it’s not really a sales book, but it is very valuable.
How to Win Friends and Influence People
And Anything that Zig Ziglar authored
What are some strategies that you would recommend for making the best sales?
Trust that the people you are selling to have the ability to make decisions on their own.
My biggest annoyance in sales is when a sales person reverts to techniques that are designed to close the deal rather than allowing the client to close the deal on their own.
I think a really good sales person understands how to present their product or service in such a way that there shouldn’t be a need for strong-handed closing techniques.
What is the most unpopular opinion you have on sales?
It actually might be my answer to the question above.
I have been in sales since I was a teenager and all of my professional life. I am very familiar with different closing techniques, but what I’ve found to be more effective is to start with the goal of actually helping the person you are selling to.
Sometimes this means that you have to admit your product or service isn’t a good fit for them. Sometimes this requires that you tell them that.
I’ve had far more success in sales by being brutally honest with people than by pushing my own agenda on them.