Hector Montalvo: How I stopped saying yes, and accelerated Source Marketing Direct’s success
Almost 20 years on, Source Marketing Direct is in its 12th year of trading in the UK, Source Marketing Direct focuses on direct, face-to-face sales through event based marketing and business-to-business solicitations. The award winning firm is working with brands across the country.Originally a teacher by trade, Hector Montalvo stumbled upon a sales and marketing company. Believing he could achieve much more in his career Hector made the leap into entrepreneurship. So let’s find out more about Hector’s story and Source Marketing Direct.
What does your business do?
We are simply an outsourced sales & marketing firm that has traditionally focused on face to face customer acquisitions of new customers for a variety of clientele. Our main function is to assist with our clients acquiring new customers in order for them to focus on what they are best at through their services. Our service is another supplement to strengthen their ability to recruit new customers outside of their traditional methods. We can bridge the gap between those hard to reach customers with a more personal and proactive approach. The COVID pandemic, however, has forced us to make some adjustments and pivot by expanding the customer acquisition service through other channels in order for us to still navigate through these times.
We originally started with event based promotions through temporary pop ups stands in retail, expositions, trade shows, festivals, etc. Although the face to face will always remain our primary service, we now have the ability to run campaigns over the phone and online to acquire new customers as well. Outside of having a measurable service, our unique advantage in the marketplace is how cost effective our service is. We work on a “no win, no fee” concept and now have the ability to offer a “money back guarantee” feature for qualified clients.
What are the most important values to you and the business that you lead?
One of the core values that I learned early on in my career is the importance of leading from the front. We do not hire from the outside. Everyone in our organisation starts from learning the foundations of the sales & marketing before advancing into leadership responsibilities. Mastering our systems that have kept us in business for nearly 20 years, personally experiencing the high and lows, challenges, obstacles, doubts, or fears that come naturally with what we do creates a fully developed and respected leader.
This core value ensures that all of our people in a leadership role, who are managing our people and campaigns, have been organically developed. This allows us to maximise our ability to lead others and put pressure on our teams performance with empathy and compassion because each of leaders have grown from the ground up.
In addition, we are conscious of creating an environment where it’s ok not to feel ok. Meaning, if a team member is having difficulty understanding something, just ask. If they don’t like something, speak up. No matter what it is. This open door policy helps us to truly connect with our team by making sure their voices are heard & valued.
What is the best piece of leadership advice you have received and why?
When I reflect back in my career, I have found that there were always 2 starting points to anything I ever did. The first was the physical start and the second was the mental start. That crucial moment I decided that I was going “all in”. Unfortunately, I didn’t reach that second start things in most of the things in my life. When I finally did commit to that “all in” mindset, I received some valuable advice that has stuck with me and I try to pass on to as many people who reach that point in their careers.
First advice was to always simply be honest. Be honest with your customers, your team, your coaches, and more importantly yourself. I heard someone, jokingly, say you should never lie to your accountant, your lawyer, or your doctor! When we are not honest, we receive the wrong advice or eventually undesired outcome. There have been so many people that I have coached out of my business because what they said and what they were actually feeling were not aligned. The advice or the direction of those conversations would point in the wrong direction and would not be compatible to the scenario or situation. If I make up an answer to a question I don’t know, give advice on something I’m not 100% confident on, say yes when I should say no, say I feel good when I don’t, coaching will never align to pave a successful path to our goals or destinations.
Second advice is to always study your “yeses”. I have spent so much time reading and studying from self-help books or watching videos on improving an area of business or in myself. Albeit helpful, some of the best advice can come from ourselves. I make it a point to document and study when things go well, or when we win. How did we win? What did we do to achieve this successful result? Where was my mindset? What was I thinking? What actions were we taking?
I have found that it’s usually the simplest things that have held me back. Having a focus on the things that I can control and ensuring that I learn from my previous accomplishments can always point me in the direction to succeed at business and in my personal life.
Can you tell us about a time when you have made the wrong decision?
How much time do you have?! I have become a professor at making the wrong decisions. As much as some of these wrong decisions have hurt myself and unfortunately others, they ultimately became some of my best learning experiences.
As a young business owner, I was very ambitious and eager to prove my worth. This led to me saying yes to every opportunity that came our way without thinking of the impact it could have with our other clients & suppliers commitments. Subway sandwich, yes! Blockbuster Video, yes! Boston Celtics, yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!
The overzealous attitude, although expanded our portfolio and it looked good on paper, the increase of clients and lack of resources led to under performing at completing budgets. This ultimately led to getting a reputation that whatever Source Marketing Direct says they will do, just subtract 20% from it. This made it increasingly difficult to secure exclusivity with clientele. Nonetheless, the hard lesson of being able to build the trust & confidence of our clients to deliver 100% completion of budgets was essential in establishing long term relationships in order to secure our future as a company. Never bite off more than we can chew.
In hindsight, I’ve realised that it helped me become a better leader. As a business owner, it’s easy to get pulled in a million different directions. When a team member has a question or is dealing with difficulties at work or home, everything needs to stop at the moment and I need to put 100% into that conversation so I don’t get beat by the same negatives of the past.
How do you get others to accept your ideas?
One thing that I learned early on is that great leaders, mentors, coaches, sales people, etc get people to do things because they want to, not because you tell them to. I have always tried to adopt something I heard Steve Jobs once say which was to always start with the end. By using my ears more than mouth, it helps me understand what my clients or team members’ needs are. Having that understanding allows me to navigate through how I would deliver my ideas to try to have them in-line with their end goals.
What is your next move?
Through our first 18 years, we have not been negatively impacted by economic or seasonal trends. We have withstood the test of time through many notable world events that altered economies, such as, US economic crash after the attacks, the Credit Crunch in the UK, and Brexit. However, being a direct, face-to-face, marketing & sales company, not being able to meet people directly is kind of a problem! It had to take a worldwide pandemic to slow us down from providing our service but we undoubtedly had to pivot.
My long term relationships with suppliers has been paramount to joining forces and combining our efforts to source new clients using new marketing platforms for us. 2021 has ushered in 2 new platforms that we have added to our arsenal. The use of telephone and online recruitment of customers has expanded our ability to have extended reach and a consistent service regardless of economic trends and now any pandemics that may head our way.
Our face-to-face will always be our bread & butter and will undoubtedly resume in full force when lockdown measures have been lifted and the government gives the green light to go! Through the lockdown, we were able to secure some major budgets. One being the largest telecommunications provider in the UK!
We have taken this opportunity to relook at the way we trained and develop our people. One of the biggest challenges we’ve always faced is just being able to develop people as quickly and efficiently as possible. 2021 has also welcomed a new strategy by adapting to the digital world. We joined forces with some of our partners to create an online app that allows our people to have access, anytime, and anywhere. The app provides step by step guides to learning and understanding our systems, a one stop shop for all original documents, and videos of some of the world’s top leaders within our industry teaching and coaching through various topics.
In addition, this year also has introduced our new online platform for strengthening our on-boarding process for new starters! A centralised platform that encompasses all of our client product training broken into several different modules. The modules are followed by some interactive lessons that will be used to test their knowledge.
All of these new tools will further provide us with better knowledge and understanding of our clients products and services. In addition, will strengthen our ability to provide best practice for clients who are trusting us with their brands so that we can continue to be a leader in our industry!
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