With the technologies available today, it is easy to search for products we need or offer products we sell but doing the transaction is at our own risk. Imagine how much better you’ll do if you have a trusted community of leaders to do business with. Whether you are a buyer, seller or distributor, in the trade industry or energy space who don’t know where to look or are looking for suppliers, this is the podcast for you! Chairman of the Board and founder of ProCents, Matt Russell gives us an overview of the enormous value you can get from the unique community they created that’s focused on providing a holistic environment where vetted partners can come in and get deals done. He also shares their commitment to doing what you say you’ll do and their dedication in supporting each other’s businesses. So listen in to know how you can make that vital connection to advance your business, and keep in mind that when we all work together and support our mutual goals, we all win!
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ProCents: A Community Of Leaders Creating Enormous Value With Matt Russell
Welcome to the show. This is the show where tribes and community leaders share their experiences to help you grow your own tribe. Our goal is to help you be a better leader, inspire more people, create the passion your community wants, and profit from the experience. Since this is a fairly new show, I still want to hear from you. Tell me what you think, what you want, who you are interested in hearing from, and what action you take once you read these episodes.
The goal of the show is to make sure that you are a better leader, whether you’re just starting out, you’re leading a community right now, or you’re about to transition a community in another direction. Be sure to read this next episode because we have an incredible individual. He has over 25 years in sales leadership and development and fifteen years in real estate development and energy efficiency sales. He has been an entrepreneur for several decades. He’s now building a vibrant community. It’s exciting to watch his pathway and see how he does. His name is Matt Russell. Welcome to the show.
Mitch, thank you for having me on the show. I’m honored.
For full disclosure, Matt and I happen to be members of a similar community called The Bellwether Alliance. We met there. It’s a very high trust environment in this community. Immediately upon meeting Matt, I felt a feeling of kinship. More importantly, I realized that this was a guy who has the same values as I do. When I got a chance to get him on the show, I got excited. Matt, tell us how this all started for you.
ProCents was formed because I have always believed in bringing solutions to people. When I worked in organizations, I have only been able to provide certain solutions. ProCents allows me to work outside in bearing the complete solution for both buyers and sellers within the energy space, which is inherently a great place to be because a lot of heartfelt people want to get deals done. I happened to be in the middle of it, providing a conduit of success.Always do what you say you're going to do. Click To Tweet
Let’s go back before ProCents and tell me a little bit more about your background. What brought you to this point?
It’s a very linear path. My father was a licensed electrician. I love and honor my father who’s still alive now. I watched him build a business. He was the first entrepreneur I saw when he was a licensed electrician. I had the ability to fulfill my father’s dreams of working smarter, not harder. After working a little bit, getting some degrees, and spending some time in the space, it led me to look for opportunities to bring solutions just like my dad did, being others-focused and trying to build a community where I can thrive in. People can also bring their kids up, which was a generational thing for me. I’m happy to be going on a little bit different path than my father.
When you were inspired by your dad, what were the qualities that you saw and said, “I would like to be like my dad in this way.” What were those qualities?
My dad always had a get-it-done mindset, but he never had the, “I’m going to steamroll someone to get to the next level.” My dad always put other people first. Being from the South, he had the “Take the shirt off his back” mentality and was honest. The thing that I utilize in my language, and it’s part of our Rolodex of how we communicate with people, is doing what you say you’re going to do. It is such a fundamental truth for us all. It’s one of those things that doesn’t resonate as well as we would like it to across all industries.
Let’s go back to what you started to say a little bit while ago. That’s the core mission of the tribe itself. How would you describe that?
The core mission of the tribe is to bring people together, make introductions, and allow them to choose their own path forward. In doing so, we have a couple of different truths that we look for. We ask for same-day communication, both bad and good, so people can make the right business decisions. Also, do what you say you’re going to do and always be attentive to others.
In this case, does this relate to personal relationships, business relationships or both? How would you describe it?
Everything I do, I like to think it is at a personal level. With ProCents, we have 45 different organizations that are part of the tribe, but it started with one person seeing the vision and the growth of being able to do that. What it’s doing is helping change the culture within the business. Some of these organizations could be as small as 5 or 10 people. Some are several hundred and maybe several thousand people strong. When we affect one, it can create a chain effect that’s affecting the entire organization by doing what we say we’re going to do.
Let’s take a step back here because most of the people I have interviewed and the people who tune in to the show are usually hearing about a community builder who creates a one-on-one relationship with a person, whether they’re a single person or a multi-person organization. You have described this several times as having 45 companies as your tribe. Where is that crossover? How are you connecting with the individual who can become passionate about what you’re doing?
When you spend as much time as I have in an industry, you get to know people. I got to know CEOs, executives, and high-ranking managers within these organizations that I have built deep friendships with and deep connections with by always doing what I say I’m going to do. When I brought this idea up to them and helped them vet the process, mitigate risk, and know that they’re getting a warm introduction that is going to be others-focused and look to build a partnership, that’s what has allowed me to go from not only an individual relationship but also helping the entire organization find success. It did start with one. Luckily for me, it’s blossomed into me helping the entire organization itself, which is a great place to be. I did not expect to be here several years ago, but I’m here now and I’m enjoying the ride.Lead by example, lead from the back and help, and be that motivator for everyone. Click To Tweet
How many people, communities or companies are you leading as part of your community itself?
We are servicing 45 different companies. For the audience, be on the lookout because we’re making an announcement, which is hopefully going to triple our membership. We have been working diligently to bring this. It’s going to be done on a personal level. It’s great.
Let’s go back to the whole idea that we start to talk about, this evolution. You started with one person, and now here you are at 45. You expect to triple this again later. How long ago did you start this?
The vision for me started several years ago. I incorporated the business back in 2019. I put forth a board of directors, which are part of those companies I work with and their individual people. They help me steer and guide this ship. They’re the tribe that helps steer me when I’m looking at making an idea or making a move. I run it by them. They help me stay within the guardrails of the organization that we’re building, which is inherently helping the entire organization. I happen to be at the helm of this ship and leading the tribe, but I have a lot of great leaders around me.
How often are you in communication with members themselves? Tell me a little bit about that.
It varies. We have a scheduled call once a month with every one of our members. We get everyone on board. Our board meets once a quarter to go over things. There are times in a given week that I could be communicating with 5 or 6 different people based on their needs, wants and desires to grow their business. That’s great because it’s not scheduled. We’re allowing life to happen. We’re allowing our business to grow organically. We’re able to show up and be adaptable to help point and provide guidance in this organization.
This sounds like it’s very casual. Some of the community leaders that I’ve communicated with before and have interviewed have a system of communication. I was wondering if there’s anything like that in your current company or community.
We utilize our social media platforms. We also use a CRM to stay in constant communication and drop little nuggets. We have constant webinars to provide education about what’s going on within the industry, which are scheduled. With our social media, we schedule things. We want engagement around that to promote each other’s companies and create these leverage positions to help catapult and provide catalyst moments for each organization.
Luckily within that, because it’s scheduled out usually 75 days in advance, we provide that. We then get together usually once a month to discuss that and the messaging that we want to go about. We’re coming up in October 2022 and Breast Cancer Awareness is coming up. We’ve made a strong push as an organization and our partners in the tribe, who’s going to be a part of that, and how we want to convey that message of being others-focused. We’re trying to bring more people into the community. We value the handshake. That’s why we try to keep it casual, but we do have a structure to it. Sometimes it’s just a phone call, but there is a calendar that we try to keep.
Let’s break this down to both sides here because your members are receiving benefits and you, as the leader, are receiving benefits. Let’s talk about that. What benefits do you, Matt Russell, provide specifically to the members of your tribe?Build something around your passion because other people are going to see that truth and vision in you and would want to be a part of it. Click To Tweet
The thing that I provide to the members of my tribe is I do my due diligence. I don’t allow anyone into the tribe without being vetted. When I bring forth an introduction, people know that I’m running them through my filter, which has allowed them to find success. That’s going to help them move past getting the know-you period and get right into doing business.
They get to choose their own path, but when the introductions are made, usually, they’re pretty sticky and resilient. They start finding success at a higher rate than an industry norm. For me, that’s the benefit because I have become the trusted advisor to help vet these companies and weed out the ones that have maybe a great organizational footprint online but they don’t adhere to it in real life. That’s what I and the president of my company try to do. I have to lead that charge because I want to lead by example, lead from the back, and help be that motivator for the entire tribe.
What you’re doing at some level is very classic tribe building. It’s important to articulate for others here. One of the things I see that you have done, which is something that you and I have done as part of The Bellwether Group, is you established a community of trust. You have raised the level of trust inside your community that bypasses the level of, “I got to check that guy out before I could even do business with him or whether I know he is a reliable individual, he’s trustworthy or honest.” It seems like when you bring someone in. You pre-vetted them. Is that right?
How do you do that?
It’s by having a plethora of conversations and doing some research. I don’t like to say I follow up on their past employers or the people that have left the company, employees or employers. I like to try to find the root cause of what makes that person tick. We’re all entitled to a bad day. When your bad day is more prevalent than your good day, we may not have that individual or that organization become part of the community. We’re trying to buck the stereotype of the 80/20 rule, where 80% of the business comes from 20% of the people. We want to flip it. We want 80% of our business to come from 80% of our organization, and that 20% is where life happens.
Once someone is part of the community, what are the benefits they get other than meeting the other members? What do you provide?
Luckily, ProCents is an industry first. What we do is act on a transaction fee. If the metrics are met for either side of the parties, we will give money back to the organization’s side because if we all are succeeding and you bought into it, you deserve something back. Usually, that’s left for the big box stores or huge conglomerates where they get these incentives. We’re taking that and making sure that both the buyers and sellers are monetized for working within the community and staying inside the community.
Doing that creates a habit and form. They’re able to get money back in that, which inherently can help with hiring a new employee, paying rent, doing a building expansion, and a variety of different other things that they want to do. How they spend the money is up to them, but it’s giving back on the percentage they brought in. It’s fair and equal across the board.
This is a little bit different type of community that I would normally have on the show, which is great because that’s what we want. We want all different types of communities to profile. Do you do any promotions on behalf of the community? Do you promote the community itself? Do you use social media? Tell us a little bit about how that works.ProCents is a good place to start to find those trusted partners, to get you the products that you need on the budget that you desire. Click To Tweet
As I alluded to earlier, we used social media. We schedule things 75 days in advance. We’re hitting November 2022. What we’re doing is highlighting every member of the community. We’re bringing the spotlight to the community on social media platforms because each one of us has our own presence. We have other community members like, share and comment on those posts to help elevate them and highlight what they do. When we can highlight what someone is good at and people get to see that, now they’re intrigued about what else they can do with them. They see that they’re a trusted person and they like doing business with them. They’re trying to figure out how to do more business with them, and we just open the door.
As the community leader, how are you monetizing the community? Do you get a transaction fee on what goes on? That makes a lot of sense. Not everybody can do that. What advice would you have about monetizing a community? Here’s a leading question into that answer. Do you believe that before starting a community, people need to have a product or service first? Should they develop a community around their passion or manifesto, what they stand for, and what they don’t stand for at the same time? What are your thoughts?
I would say build something around your passion or manifesto. If that’s your truth or vision, other people are going to see that truth and vision in you. They want to be a part of it because it’s what people want. I didn’t get to where I’m at by selling a product. I got to where I’m at because of who I am.
That’s the only true way to build trust inside of an organization. It goes right back to the attraction factor. It’s all about showing someone who you are. Let that be what attracts them and what repels them at the same time because you certainly don’t want those people in the community. The stronger your statement and personality are around that, the better selectiveness you will have inside of the community recruiting efforts. Let’s take a look at the future. Let’s go way into the future, maybe one or two years into the future. What do you see for ProCents?
My goal and the board’s goal is to bring this to the industry that we serve. There are many great partners and trade organizations. We’re looking to partner with them and create this holistic environment where people come in and get deals done. Do it in such a way that it happens every single day because many organizations do it at a trade show. There are so much joy and happiness that comes out of a trade show. Following up, you got to stay consistent. We’re providing that consistency. Our goal is to have partnerships with other organizations. We’re hoping that in 2023, we’re not at 45 but closer to 300 to 400.
If someone says, “This sounds like an interesting community,” what are the types of companies or organizations that you would be looking to onboard that maybe you’ve never heard of before or you’re not working with yet?
We work in the trade industry, but one of the things that we have a great deal of value in is tax incentives. DPAs are great to have as part of the community because they understand the tax code. Also, the people that are in the government sector because there’s a lot of red tape in that. We can find people or organizations that say, “Here’s how you approach them,” because you always want to approach people with the right message. You don’t want to come in there and bulldoze your way in. If you can’t be a partner based on the message that they’ve provided, it’s better to stay outside until your message meets their needs.
If somebody has a company, what would you say their need would be to want to investigate becoming a member of your organization?
If you’re interested in building a better community around the trade industry or energy space, whether you’re a building owner or you lease buildings out, we can be that partner for you because we have partners. These 45 organizations have national and international reach. It’s a good way to find that value and build a relationship that will last for years and years to come. CPAs, bookkeepers, and even social media influencers are people that can help with that. Every one of these companies needs its own help, but we don’t know where to look, and we’re looking for trusted people.
Everybody here has a CPA. What would you say the message that I would bring to my CPA would be if I wanted to say, “You should check this thing out because,” Matt, give me the words.You never know where your next opportunity might lie. And it’s better to be giving, helping, and lending a hand, than not opening the door for somebody. Click To Tweet
I look for somebody that’s proficient in tax incentives, the 179D. There’s a lot in the tax code, but if they’re an expert and can look at that 179D, that’s a benefit to every organization. There are not a lot of them. I have talked with a lot of CPAs. Unfortunately, we need to have more that can understand that language within the tax code.
Other than accountants, give me another example because there may be someone that we haven’t identified yet. Let’s identify a few more.
We work with a lot of building owners, whether it be new construction or they’re going into retrofit. The partners or relationships they had in the past have retired post-COVID. Now they’re looking for new partnerships. It’s those building owners, landlords, and people that are looking to make their leases or properties more attractive. ProCents is a good way to start finding those trusted partners to get you the products that you need on the budget that you desire.
If I’m a building owner, I’m in a regional area, and I’m looking for electricians or looking for plumbers, am I coming to ProCents or is that not the real thing?
You come to us.
When you said the trade, you meant the physical trades. The guys out there who were swinging the wrench. What a fantastic story, Matt, and what a great community it looks like you’ve assembled. How would people get a hold of you? Where would they go to find out more?
The best way to find out more about me and ProCents is to visit the website at www.ProCents.com, or you can shoot me an email at [email protected]. I will take the time to sit down and talk with you to see what value we can provide you.
That’s a great offer. Not everybody who appears on this show is going to offer their own personal time. I thank you and appreciate you for doing that. If you are even remotely thinking this might be something that you’re interested in, I would have a quick call with Matt and see how that feels because he’s a pretty special guy and he’s also very well connected in this world. I’m going to speak for you, Matt. I have a feeling you’d help people out even if they’re not a perfect candidate for ProCents.
You never know where your next opportunity might lie. It’s better to be lending a helping hand than not opening the door for somebody.
Matt Russell, this has been a lot of fun. I’m glad we had a chance to spend this time. I’m excited about where this is going. I want an update when you triple your membership. Don’t forget, this is an open offer. Even if you’re reading this a year later, you know how to reach Matt. All of his information is going to be on his show page over at TheTribeBuilders.com. Look up Matt Russell, give him a shout and let’s have fun.
Thank you, Matt.
About Matt Russell
Matt is a subject matter expert, coach, speaker and entrepreneur focused on overcoming barriers to implementing time savings for clients. As an Executive of the Board at R-Core, he helps teach other professionals and organizations how to enhance their business success. He is also the Chairman of the Board for ProCents where he and others experts help increase profitability through the increased buying power.
His experience includes over 25 years in sales leadership & development, 15 years in real estate & energy efficiency sales, and 20 years as an entrepreneur. Over the last decades, he has provided guidance to aid in the efficiency decisions that have saved more than one billion dollars.
Matt received his Bachelors in Sales and Marketing and went on to get his MBA in International Business and Human Resources. He also carries several industry certification.
National Council on Qualifications for the Lighting Profession
(LC) -Lighting Certified
American Lighting Association
(CLC) -Certified Lighting Consultant
Association of Energy Engineers
(CEA) – Certified Energy Auditor
Live Well and Prosper Fairly
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