On the show with me today is Warren Carter.  Warren Carter is a serial entrepreneur and his favorite sales story came from his 12-year run with his voicemail company. In 1989 he jotted a short script which included the standard sales line of “What’s the best day for you, Tuesday or Thursday?” He picked up the phone, dialed the number of a billion-dollar corporation, and asked to speak to the President. That phone call led to an appointment the following Thursday which led to the addition of 300,000 subscribers, worth over $60 million. That call taught Warren to be fearless in picking up the phone to call prospects.

These days Warren is focused on leveraging the sales skills that he’s accumulated over his career to grow his recently launched Amazon wholesale business.

If you aspired to build your own eCommerce brand and are looking for actionable tactics and strategies, this is the interview for you.

Full Transcript

Trent: Hey everybody. Welcome back to another episode of the bright ideas podcast. As always, I am your host Trent Dyrsmid and I’m here to help you discover what is working in e-commerce today by shining a big bright light on the tools, the tactics and the strategies in use by today’s leading entrepreneurs. On the show. With me today is a fellow by the name of Warren Carter. Warren is a serial entrepreneur and over his career, his favorite sales story came from his 12 year run with a company in 1989 he jotted a short script which included the standard sales line of which day or rather, which is the best day for you, Tuesday or Thursday align. I’ve used many times myself. He picked up the phone, dial the number of $1 billion corporation and asked to speak to the president. That phone call led to an appointment the following Thursday, which led to an additional 300,000 subscribers and $60 million for his business. That call taught Warren to be fearless in picking up the phone to call prospects. These days, warn is focused on leveraging these sales skills to grow his recently launched Amazon wholesale business or that is a heck of a story. Thank you so much for making some time to be my guest. Welcome to the show.

Warren: Thank you. Good to be here.

Trent: So I love the fact that you just picked up the phone and called that guy. I used to do that all the time in my very first career as a stock broker and a, and actually as a guy by the name of James Clear, he wrote this book called Atomic Habits. And if you Google Trent Dyrsmid in the paper Click paper clip theory, you’ll see an article about, I mean, how many times they used to know it was ridiculous. $25,000 in my first year. But anyway, I digress. So we’re here to talk about you and Amazon and I know you just started this. I think you just finished your first 30 days of sales using the wholesale model and how much, what’s the number you put on the board? Uh, 12,000. All right, so $12,000 I think is a heck of a start to growing your Amazon business, especially in your first month.

Trent: And that’s why I wanted to get you on the show because I know there are a lot of folks who have this same ambitions that you have in the same ambitions that I have and they get, they struggle, they get hung up. And, and so I’m hoping that the conversation you and I are about to have will serve both as an inspiration as well as a kind of an open book for those folks so that they can go on to become more successful. So let’s start kind of like why, why Amazon? You’ve got this guy, you got all this business experience and so forth in real estate and here, there and everywhere. And now you want to sell on Amazon. What the hell you want to do that for?

Warren: Well, um, we’re getting a while. Other people our age are thinking about retiring. We’re not. And, uh, my wife and I sat down about a year ago this month and we said, what am I going to do? Like, what’s the rest of our lives? And, uh, and she came up with the idea of, well, why don’t we sell on Amazon? I got some friends that are doing that. They’re liking it. I go, what’s that all about? I had no idea what it was about. Well, five months later we had an order in it’s China for thousands of dollars of a product. We were sourcing on private label. And, and a week after that order was produced, actually, uh, I heard about the wholesale formula and I could not sleep. And I just like, there’s no way. There’s, there’s no way we can bring this private label product in. We’re going to die. It’s going to kill it, take all of our money.

Warren: And I, uh, I finally, literally in two days, I got in touch with the Chinese manufacturer, canceled the order, left a significant amount of money on the table. I said, keep it goodbye. I’ll never call you. You’ll never call me. That’s it. And, and they were so pissed. But you know what? I slept like a baby that night. And from that point forward we jumped into the wholesale formula, jumped into webs, jumped into this and where we are today and here we are since February. We actually just now launched this last month in August and it’s taken us that long to learn and get ready and build up the pipeline and all that stuff. So it’s exciting. Exciting.

Trent: So let’s, you said a whole bunch of things there that people might not know what it is. So let’s unpack some of it. So private label to explain to me the, in the short version, the difference between private label and wholesale.

Warren: Well, private label is picking a particular product and and making it unique to you, trademarking it and having it manufactured and going to Amazon and selling it, using the Amazon system. It’s a long, hard road and very expensive. Very risky.

Trent: Yup. Cause if you pick wrong, you’re done, you’re done, you’re done. Okay. And wholesale is?

Warren: wholesale is discovering already, uh, products that are already being sold on Amazon. And you can determine which ones are successful, which ones are profitable, uh, what they are, and you can, uh, contact the manufacturer, hopefully join up and over time, you know, uh, get an opportunity to join up and become one of their sellers on Amazon. So it’s a much less risky venture, costs less money to do generally. And uh, it’s just the risk is just totally different.

Trent: Oh yeah. And if so, folks, if you’re new to my show and you don’t know anything about my history, I also started in private label, was not very successful at it, discovered wholesale. And within five months my business had grown to over a hundred thousand dollars a month. And it just kept on going. And the beauty of beauty of wholesale is, you know what you’re buying. You know how it’s, you know, how well it’s sells, you know, how many reviews it has. You’re just simply, it’s a relationship where you are trying to convince the manufacturer that they would be better off to have you as one of their sellers versus not. Yeah. All right. So we’ve discovered that we covered the business model. You talked about the wholesale formula. Anyone can Google that. Essentially it’s a training course. Um, and you’d mentioned something, uh, by the name of, of Webs. What’s, what’s this Webs thing all about?

Warren: Well, I discovered webs when we were going through the training course, uh, for the TWF training course. And uh, and actually, uh, I saw a video of you at one of their annual events talking about webs. I go, what is webs? And I watched the video and I go, oh my goodness, it’s the yellow brick road. That is what we need or what? I tried to buy it on the spot. And then you, you said, no, you’re not allowed to buy it. We’re not selling it right now. And I go, what? You don’t want to take my money? So we figured it out that you only do it at certain times. So you know, when the time was appropriate, I had my money in my hand practically cash here, take this, sign me up, get me going. I want that yellow brick road. And, and we use it too. We use it constantly.

Trent: Okay. So let’s, and this is really why I wanted people to hear from you instead of me. What? You know, why it’s beneficial. So you get a training course and a training course is great because it, it has all these videos and conceptually it teaches you what to do, right?

Warren: Yeah. It teaches you about the, about the business, about the products, about the opportunity and [inaudible] are the associates you with other people of like mind and like experience in it gets you related with them. So it’s sets the system up, but it’s not the system, I mean you or, or webs has developed the, the steps, the steps, the processes, the standard operating procedures that without those easily wander around the field, you wouldn’t know what to do. You’d think you’re doing some great and you’re, you’re off doing something not great.

Trent: And were you trying to succeed before you purchased webs? Were you trying to land a sale?

Warren: No, no, I was, I was just learning how to spell wholesale. I mean, it was, I was literally at the very beginning, completely ignorant, admitting it and saying, what’s next boss, what’s next boss. And that’s what happened. That’s what I was.

Trent: And when you bought Webs, did you sit down and read it from one end to the other?

Warren: Are you kidding me? I don’t read anything. Um, no. Uh, you said don’t do that. I obeyed you, which I obey everybody in this business and uh, one step at a time. So I went away over to the sourcing and that’s where we started in. The first thing I did was get a hold of my VA, my virtual assistant, and I said, you know, you, you’ve been exposed to webs. Yes, yes, yes. Great. Okay, we’re going to use this. Oh Great. Now I know what to do. So there was, it was awesome. So two of us teamed up, spent several sessions talking about what we’re going to do and food. Away we went.

Trent: So how long did you from the day you had that conversation with your VA to we’re going to use webs, we’re going to follow the procedures. And the procedures are just checklists. I mean, they’re super checklists with high level of details. So there’s no training needed for a VA because they’re self-explanatory. And I, that’s what I say to people. It’s plug and play. You just, you assign the checklist to the VA and they do the thing. How long did it, how long did it take you to get your first account?

Warren: Um, our first account, well we got our first account and um, verbally in July and practically in August. So we started that process in May and it took, I’d say it took us a couple of months to build up our pipeline, do the extractions and you know, fill in our CRM with emails and all that stuff. That’s a lot of detail doing it. So we got it filled up close to a thousand and then we started campaigns. We started email campaigns in July,

Trent: in July. Okay. And you land in an account in August and then $12,000 in revenue in that first 30 days.

Warren: And our second ones, the second one is the one I worked the second one for two over two months. It was our first one. It was before the one we actually got and uh, they just kept him on around. And one thing I like that second one or that first one, the one we really wanted and the one that we’re buying from literally today. Yup. Uh, they uh, stiffed my call. We had a planned meeting for me to present to them. They never showed west coast company, west coast. And I was so ticked. I worked days and days and hours and hours getting my brand health report ready to go. And I was a, the zoom all set up and I was sitting there waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting and they weren’t there. And so I texted them, I emailed them, I tried to live call left a voice message, nothing half Argos by nothing.

Warren: I go son of a God. I’m so I go, wow, what a lesson to learn. So we just, I just, man, I got to lick my wounds. So that Friday, that was a Monday, that Friday I said I could not stand it. I, so I tried to call him, wouldn’t answer my phone. I thought, well he knows my caller id. So I used, I used our grasshopper number, which is an 800 number. He didn’t know that I used that to out dial him and he picked up the phone. It’s like a cold call, you know, so and I says, Hey Eli, you know there’s Warren Carter. Yeah. He goes, oh, I’m so sorry I meant to call Ya, you know, family emergency, whatever. What my wife was going. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I got, you know what I gave him the, I gave him the benefit of the dies as well. When can we meet next and will you be able to make it? Yes, I will. My sales manager will be there and, and you know what? And he did make the next one and then from that one it led to a vice president meeting. And then literally today we have, we are product going into Amazon because I did, I didn’t walk away after East stiffed me and I stuck with it.

Trent: Let’s unpack some details here because I want to make sure people really understand how all of this happened. So we’re going to talk about two parts. First of all, I want to talk about the campaign and what all that meant and what you had to do and how, I want you to explain, you know, how webs was beneficial to you in that regard. And then I want to talk about this phone and on the sales skills and the persistence because that’s every bit as important in this business as having create systems. So what was your first campaign? We would like walk us through what that was.

Warren: Well our first campaign was a hundred. We, we do campaigns in a a hundred emails and

Trent: you found a hundred products

Warren: they had, we had hundreds. Yeah,

Trent: yeah. That fit the fit that fit the filters. Right?

Warren: Right.

Trent: She and you put them in a CRM. Okay. Right.

Warren: They were in that, they were in the CRM first and I went through this program called G-Mass and [inaudible] has guided me through and that’s what is recommended by webs. I followed it step by, it took me a while step by step by step to do that. I had to do it a few times and it just was so perfect and it’s set up those hundred put them in little groups and, and, and then it said, you know, email it. So I emailed the a hundred and it come back into this can’t do that. You don’t do 50 at a time. Okay. All right. So then I had to do 51 day and 50 the next day and then out they went. I go, man, my phone was buzzing and clicking and it was all this stuff coming back cause I was tracking all those things. And uh, so uh, then ultimately, uh, we got some that came back that said, yeah, you know, we don’t take Amazon or we want to know more about your business.

Warren: Do you have a brick and mortar store? All this kind of stuff. So that, wow, I got some people to talk back with. They, so those replies out of the 150 opened it, which means 50. It didn’t even open it. So we recycle those my feet, my VA recycles it. And then of the 50 that did open it, we had 15, I think it was 17 that actually replied to me with something. They said something, they sent a link or a form or whatever. So I thought, well, I’ve got 17 to call back to recontact to tell our story to the others, the 33 that didn’t, we recycled those. So we put them right back into the hopper and we went back out the next time with those. So we’ve done two campaigns of a hundred and it, the beginning of every week, I got out at at seven o’clock in the morning on a Monday. So that, uh, when they come into work, they’re coming in and I’m at the top of their email list, you know. So,

Trent: and out of the hundred, that first campaign, you got an account, right?

Warren: Yeah, yeah, yeah. We got, uh, yeah, we got an account. The second one we got an, we got another one,

Trent: another account. So the takeaway here that I want people to understand, because people come into this business all the time and they have misaligned expectations and misaligned expectations result in frustration, which results in people giving up. So out of a hundred emails, you got one account, but takeaways, there are their success rate of versus emails sent is 1% which is right in line with what it has been for me. But if you look at the 17 that replied to you, technically you got one out of 17 where there was a dialogue. Now you sold lots of stuff in your career, right? Yep. How does one in 17 compare to all the other stuff that you’ve sold? That’s good, bad, average.

Warren: Oh, it’s, it’s, it’s actually very good because those 17 came from the 50 so I had really a third of the 50 that opened. It said something to me. I go, Whoa, that’s a great, and then, and then we got one, actually one turned into three brands, three brands with that one context. So now I look at, and that’s the $12,000. So I look at that and I go, wow, that was pretty good. You know, and then we did another one and another one came out. This was the one that stiffed me on the second a hundred debt we sent out. And uh, and that’s gonna develop into an $8,000 a month. So between two campaigns, we’ve got our start, we’ve got our start up here. Oh it was, it was just huge. Cause I, I didn’t, I didn’t, I hear all these stories, you know, we’ve got $1 million the first month and you know, it took me six years to get one.

Warren: I mean I, I heard all this stuff. I said, you know what, we’re going to be ourselves, whatever it is. And I had a little bit of a clock on me cause my, the company that I contract with Sorta wants to get rid of me. And I go, well I need to, I need to get my act in gear. So anyhow, my expectations were a year from now, I want to be doing $10,000 a month in profit a year from now. And I’m going a year from my launch. I go, man, this is, this is a good start towards that.

Trent: Well, cause you’re already at 12th house.

Warren: $3,000. Yeah. We’re already a third of that. And that’s our first, it’s our first two campaigns. So, you know, we’re getting ready to do more campaigns.

Trent: Yup. So one of the other, so let’s, let’s, uh, actually hold on one more question. Yeah. People when they start off, especially if they haven’t been in business before, um, analysis paralysis is super, super common. They look [inaudible], they come, they, they make lists about making lists. They get ready to get ready. Here’s the, here’s an area where some people can get hung up picking, oh, I got to pick a niche. I gotta I gotta have one niche. And while I think in the longterm, because we now have a niche that we’re focused on more than the rest, but at the beginning I didn’t, I didn’t pick a niche. Did you worry about, you know, analyzing everything, all the categories and looking at all the numbers and trying to pick a niche or did you just say, Huh, shotgun? Oh,

Warren: It was, it was the shotgun boom, but I had the profile, the economic profile that you got to meet this. You gotta be what we call in the green when it comes to the mount of money we make on that. If you’re not in the green, you don’t exist. I don’t look at you and I don’t even know what the product is. In fact, I don’t know what the product is until actually after they reply to the email and my campaign, that’s the first time I actually open up. I go, oh, men’s underwear. I didn’t know that.

Trent: Did webs specifically define for you what in the green was?

Warren: Yeah, it was in the extractions where you take the extractions and you put it into the tendo spreadsheet spreadsheet and then over to the right is those columns which says, here’s how much money you can make from this. You know, if all the numbers are correct, this is how much money you can make per month. I go and it’s dark green, light green, middle, green. And I go, if you’re in the green baby, I’m looking for you. And that was, that is like everything to me. Cause that’s where my, that’s where my focus is.

Trent: Yeah. So you like me probably got a lot of replies from people that said, we don’t want anymore Amazon sellers. Have you yet been successful? I mean it sounds like you have, because the guy kind of blew you off, which is the metaphorical equivalent of telling you he didn’t want any more sellers. But if you’ve been successful in converting one of those nos into a yes.

Warren: Well, both of my first two were nos. They weren’t flat out nose, but they were nose in the process. Like, ah, I don’t know about you. You know, where’s your store? Or you know, I mean, stuff like that. So I had to overcome that and we had strategies for overcoming that. It just takes a lot of time. You just can’t push it. It’s not slam. Bam. Thank you, ma’am, kind of thing. It’s, you know, it’s to, you know, I’ve learned that over the years. So

Trent: Yeah. Anyone who’s been in business for more than an hour and a half understand relationships are not formed from a phone call. They’re formed from a series of congruent communications coming from the place of I want to help.

Warren: Yeah. Yeah. My, my, the one, the one brand owner manager that I work with at the second one that’s coming in, he calls me Sir. I mean, he was so impressed. In fact, what he said is c, he re he originally turned my brand health report down, turned it down. And uh, this is after we actually had the meetings and everything and I go, well, did all that work. Two months of work. He stiffed, I got him back, reel them back in. And now he’s saying, no, he says, but this is the bottom of the email says, but you’ve done so much work. You’ve helped us so much. Uh, we saw who you really are. We want you to become a seller. And I’m thinking myself, a seller with no obligation. I mean, I mean this is just awesome and I’m going to fulfill the obligation and I’ll work at it, but no contract, cause I gave him a contract while we’re doing all this stuff. They didn’t want to sign that. So here we are. They were impressed because my patience and my willingness to do the work without compensation and uh, and so on and so on. And I, it just, it just took, I took two months.

Trent: How did you create this brand health report?

Warren: Oh man, that’s kind of a, it’s kind of a claim to fame for us, but not really. It came from TWF originally. Then we went to a webs, webs had its version. TDF had its version. My wife and I looked and says, I like some of each, I don’t like some of these. So we said, well let’s take, let’s take it and let’s make our brand health report got a word document. We constructed it from, you know, what website and what TWF ad and a, it took us days to fill that thing out. And we go, we can’t do this for everyone. So that’s not gonna work. I mean, and then they turn it down. I go here, tell you what, let’s skinny it way down. It was 10 sections, 10 points each, a hundred point score and it covered everything in the listings and the relationship with the brand owner.

Warren: I said, let’s teach, let’s teach our VA to do that. So I got her taught her how to do the mini, we call them mini brand health report, which is just a, you know, just a microcosm of the big one. And then so she takes that, fills it out, scores it, attaches it to the contact in our CRM, puts the score in there, and then I filter them down. So the lowest score comes up first. And these are every replies. So when we send out a campaign, she, she takes, takes care of all that and every reply gets a mini brand health report. She just does it automatically. So then when I get ready to call them back, there’s all there it is there. This is the one that needs us the most. This is there areas of the, that they need the work and it’s awesome. It’s just I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t talk with anyone without that cause that’s my intel.

Trent: Yeah, because you have to be prepared. You have to be prepared. I mean this is, you’re talking to this person from the first time for the first time, you have no report. They don’t know who you are. And if it’s not all about them, they’re not going to be interested.

Warren: It was like the billion dollar corporation that I called. I knew they were hurting. I did. My research manufacturer told me about their problems. So when I, when I hit that red hot button and said on that call, you know, this is probably happening. Yeah. Yeah. That’s probably that. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. We’re the pros. We can fix that next Tuesday or Thursday. What’s best for you. So it was just like that. And that’s what I do with this. I find problem areas touch on them. Hopefully I hit them and then say next week, what’s best time to go over this.

Trent: So what advice would you give the person who’s listening to this interview when they’re thinking, I want to get into this business? What would you tell them?

Warren: Well, don’t, I mean make sure that you have your expectations set correctly. There’s a lot of work. If you haven’t been in this business before, you’re going to start from, from the base. You’re going to start learning. You’re going to do things you think are, oh that can’t be right. Yes it is. Yes it is. You listen to the leader, you follow the experienced people, you no you, you follow TWF, you follow webs. Do not deviate. Stick it out. Listen to the people that have been there before you and just like sort of like shut up and go with it. And I don’t mean shut up, shut your brain off. But because you’ve got experience and that’s valuable, but you know there’s things that are done here that aren’t, Eh, it looks a little bit, that’s okay, let’s follow that yellow brick road. Do what they tell you to do. It works that, that would be my advice. And be humble. You’ve got to, you got to kind of set your ego off to the side cause Oh man, I’ve been 30 years doing this. I’m this. Let it go on. You know, just set it aside as a whole new business. That’s a million details. Uh, you know, you got a lot to learn. There’s a steep learning curve here. Maybe I don’t care how old are good. You are, how rich you are. You, everybody goes up that same map. Everybody follow the leader up the mountain.

Trent: So let’s close off with the idea of persistence. I want to, I’ll tell a quick little story that I told you off camera. So I went to a trade show just this past week. Um, and while there I bumped into a brand and the fellow at the brand who we emailed exactly the way that we had described two years ago and because I had in there in Salt Lake and because I had one another account in Salt Lake, I at least managed to get an appointment with this guy cause I said, hey, I’m going to be in town anyway. Can I stop talking and buy you coffee? And, but of course, you know, we’d been in business I think for all of about four and a half seconds at that point in time. And so he was like, well I’m not, I’m not going to give you an opportunity cause they’re, they’re a pretty big brand.

Trent: They do. Uh, but eight or 9 million a year on Amazon and show me your store on Amazon. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. I don’t, I don’t have anything yet. Anyway. So saw him at the booth. We instantly recognized each other. Um, he said, you know what? Really cool to see you. Glad you’re here. Let’s have lunch. Cause now we’re going to do business together.

Warren: No, not coffee as lunch.

Trent: Not yet in any. And he paid so, which is great. Yeah. So my, my, my, my reason I bring that up is, is there is like every other business on planet earth, you need to put some time in and you need to be persistent. And if you do those things, it will get easier over time. Yeah, yeah.

Warren: Yeah. You can’t do this an hour a week. Really. I mostly do. You, you can’t, you can’t. And one of my challenges in the beginning was I was working five days a week as a contractor for a company. And I told Cathy, I said, Cathy, we have got to change this. This is not gonna work. If I don’t have contiguous days in a row, I can’t send out a campaign and do the follow ups and I cannot do that. I’ve got to have contiguous days in a row. So I renegotiated with my, with the company I contract with and I got five days cut down to two mornings, took a pay cut but not so substantial that you know, we couldn’t make it. So it took a pay cut two mornings and now the rest of the week is mine for Amazon. And I tell you that made a difference now. Now I can work the business.

Trent: Yup. Yup. No question. All Right Warren. Well it’s been a pleasure to have you come on. Congratulations on the early success that you’ve had. I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that you’re just going to continue to grow your business and you will achieve your goals. And my hope is here is that the people who have just watched this will be inspired, um, or maybe deterred and figured that this isn’t for them cause it’s not for everybody. But if they’re inspired, uh, that they will go on and have success as well. So thank you guys so much for making some time to be on the show.

Warren: You’re very welcome and welcome to those that are going to join up. So.

Questions Asked During the Interview

  1. What was you revenue over the prior 30 days?
  2. When di you start selling on Amazon?
  3. Why did you start selling on Amazon?
  4.  Tell me about your business model.
  5. How did you find your first 10 products?
  6. How many emails did you send in your first campaign?
  7. How many got opened?
  8. How many replied?
  9. How many accounts did you win from this send?
  10. Did you pick a category in advance?
  11. How did you overcome the objection “We don’t want any more Amazon sellers”?
  12. What plans do you have for the future of your business?
  13. What advice would you give someone who wants to get into this business?

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Today’s Guest

Warren Carter is a serial entrepreneur. Warren’s favorite sales story is back from 1989, when he jotted a short script which included the standard sales line of “What’s the best day for you, Tuesday or Thursday?” He picked up the phone, dialed the number of a billion-dollar corporation, and asked to speak to the President. That phone call led to an appointment the following Thursday which led to the addition of 300,000 subscribers, worth over $60 million. That call taught Warren to be fearless in picking up the phone to call prospects.

These days Warren is focused on leveraging the sales skills that he’s accumulated over his career to grow his recently launched Amazon wholesale business.

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