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Money Muscle

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Ashley Shepherd is the founder and CEO of Money Muscle, a tax consultancy for health and fitness businesses and entrepreneurs. She also offers fractional CFO services.

Coaching Sales helped Ashley get off the phones. She was taking 3-4 calls a day and didn't have the energy to work on her business. In 5 weeks, the sales reps we found her closed six figures in new business.

I sat down with Ashley to talk about her business journey, what drives her, what inspires here, and about her experience working with us.

ashley shepherd money muscle

Interview Highlights

  • How Ashley overcame her fear of sales calls and taught herself to be a pretty good saleswoman [05:20]
  • The “A ha!” moments Ashley came across when she started building a team and delegating tasks in her business [10:05]
  • Why posting a job ad for a sales person gave Ashley a wake-up call that eventually led her to Coaching Sales [12:01]
  • How is managing and leading sales reps different than other team members? [14:43]
  • What's Ashley going to focus on now that she's no longer taking sales calls and has freed up around 20 hours a week? [18:40]

Interview Transcript

[00:00:00] Mike Mark:

Go. Great. All right. Welcome back to another episode of Scale your Sales podcast. I'm here with Ashley Shepherd who's the CEO of Money Muscle. Ashley, how are you doing today?

[00:00:15] Ashley Shepherd:

Doing amazing. Thanks for having me.

[00:00:18] Mike Mark:

Good. I'm excited to have you and I'm eager to learn more about your journey and all the twists and turns. I know, you know, right now where you're at you've recently got some sales reps up and running. They're starting to get some momentum, which is really exciting. And what I really want to do is go start from the beginning. For Money Muscle, is this your first business that you ever started or had you started a business prior to that?

[00:00:43] Ashley Shepherd:

Yeah, this was actually my first company to open. I actually all stem from working for an employer and realizing that I could do this on my own.

[00:00:53] Mike Mark:

Yep. Okay. Was your employer doing something similar or would you just see, like there was a gap in the market like, oh, I could do this better.

[00:01:02] Ashley Shepherd:

Yeah, it was similar but what I found was that there's a few things that were just very important that were missing in the tax industry. And I'm like, I really have to like focus on those things because that's really what the clients need and want.

[00:01:18] Mike Mark:

Interesting. What were those things for the audience?

[00:01:23] Ashley Shepherd:

Yeah, so I run a tax firm. And so the tax firm I was working at was very focused on compliance. So tax compliance, whereas clients, what they really want. Yeah. You have to file your tax return, but you also actually wanna be proactive and save money and not be stressed about taxes. And that's what I saw the gap was it was like, people want that. And they, they don't wanna, you know, go through the year and then find out they owe $50,000. They wanna know throughout the year, how much they owe and what can we do about it. And so that's the number one variance that I saw.

[00:01:57] Mike Mark:

That makes perfect sense. I've heard that from several of the folks and successful CEOs where it'll pop up on them out of surprise. And, you know, even sometimes where they're expecting a big tax bill, and then they end up getting money back, or it's a fraction of what it is that even frustrates them. Cuz they're like, well, I wish I would've known that cuz I would've deployed this capital or I would've made some moves a little bit differently and they just weren't proactive enough in the planning. So that makes perfect sense. Okay so when you first started, how long ago was it that you first started?

[00:02:31] Ashley Shepherd:

It was back in 2018.

[00:02:33] Mike Mark:

Okay. And when you started, what was some of the initial challenges that you came across trying to hang up your own shingle?

[00:02:45] Ashley Shepherd:

Yeah. I mean, it's literally, how do I run a business? How do I do the operations and how do I get clients? I know how to do the thing I'm good at, but how do I do all the other stuff? And it's really like, I constantly have to increase your skills and learn more. And fortunately, I hired a coach that was able to solve most of those things for me, and really like catapulted my growth and ability to resolve all those issues. Really. It's just kind of the foundational things.

[00:03:17] Mike Mark:

Cool. Okay. That makes perfect sense. Who is the initial coach? If you wanna say, if you don't wanna say it's totally fine too.

[00:03:23] Ashley Shepherd:

Yeah. Andrew [inaudible].

[00:03:25] Mike Mark:

Interesting. Uh, yeah, I actually worked with Andrew [inaudible] on the sales side so while Andrew was taking all the sales calls and we started working with him like back in 2018, no more, even earlier 2016, 17. It's crazy small world. That's what I was wondering. That's cool. They've grown like crazy too now. And it's cool to see their trajectory. And so they helped you really figure out the sales side of being a tax professional. And so I guess while you were going through that process, especially for I find this as something that I wanted really like stop and go into a little bit with you because people who come from oftentimes like accounting or finance or operational backgrounds, they find sales as such a struggle for them to really get and figure out. Was that the case for you when you started to put it out there?

[00:04:24] Ashley Shepherd:

Oh, yeah. It's funny because I look back at, you know, I had recorded the calls and I have notes from all my calls still and I can look back and see, wow. I was really bad hearing yourself on the phone three, four years ago. You're like, damn I've grown a lot. And it's definitely, it's something you have to kind of like, just dive into otherwise. That fear will just cripple you and you won't even wanna do it, but it's totally necessary in the beginning phases of business to actually do it.

[00:04:56] Mike Mark:

Now, did you used to have the beliefs? Like I'm not a salesperson I'm not any good at sales? Like, did you ever find yourself saying those kinds of things in the early days?

[00:05:06] Ashley Shepherd:

Yeah. I definitely thought like, I don't know how to talk to people. How am I gonna talk them, offer my services. It's weird asking them for money. And you just, eventually you get comfortable talking to random people and then you find you like learn bits from every single call that you have. And you're like, oh, next time I'm gonna say this. Or you hear yourself like oh, my tone sucks. I'm gonna change my tone and you just kind of keep learning and tweaking. And eventually it just becomes almost like habitual where you're like, I already know how to show up. I know what to say. I know how to respond. I know, you know, everything and it's just little pieces. It's like little crumbles here and there. And it finally just comes together.

[00:05:48] Mike Mark:

That's a really good way of describing it 'cause it's a lot what it is, you know? And I think even sometimes like for being where I'm at, you know, as a, like, helping people learn how to sell and training sales, it's easy to forget what the beginning days were like once it becomes part of that unconscious competence where it's always just, like we said, it's just a habit almost, or like a reflex you get on the call, you already know what to say. And in those beginning days, you're trying to figure it out in like everything you're taking so much away from each and every call. Now with that, so just a question when you started to have to like sell and whatnot, did you ever at that point in time think like I need a salesperson instead of me doing all this stuff?

[00:06:35] Ashley Shepherd:

I did, but I knew I was too early because what I really needed was someone to come in and do the work and take care of the clients because I didn't have any time. The sales calls were taking up the time, but I like doing it at that point. I'm like I can kind of do it like I'm all right. Definitely not an expert, but I knew I needed someone to come in and help manage the clients before the salesperson.

[00:07:03] Mike Mark:

Yeah. Interesting. And what gave you that awareness? Cuz I feel like a lot of people sometimes try and put the cart before the horse. So what gave you that awareness that hey, even though I want a salesperson maybe now is not the time.

[00:07:17] Ashley Shepherd:

I actually started liking marketing and sales more.

[00:07:22] Mike Mark:

Oh, interesting. Okay.

[00:07:23] Ashley Shepherd:

Than actually doing the work and I think that's kind of helped shift my position, like what position I wanted to be from, you know, the person doing the work to maybe a different role. And then now to like more trying to be more the CEO , right? And so I feel like going through that whole process of learning sales really opened up my eyes to say like, Hey, yes, you have experience in this area but this area is really exciting and you're really liking it. Maybe you should focus your energy there. And yeah, that's kind of what I thought was the right thing to do. And financially just made more sense.

[00:08:05] Mike Mark:

That makes sense. It's interesting. Was it like a slow growing to love it or did you find that you liked it pretty quickly?

[00:08:14] Ashley Shepherd:

I think after I felt like I'm not terrible at it. Then I started to like anymore, took probably like a solid year, a couple, like probably I'd say 200 calls. And then I was like, all right. I, you know, I'm not great, but I'm not terrible either.

[00:08:30] Mike Mark:

It's interesting. I, I think, um, in, in most cases it's right around like, 300 to 500 calls on one specific offer. Right. That's when people start to find that groove a little bit and start to be like, okay, maybe I'm not awful at this. Yeah. Um, yeah. Yeah. It's interesting that right at about 200 is the number for you. Well, you got it kind of moving at this point and you were doing probably a little bit of everything, the actual fulfillment work and this marketing and the sales. Getting the fulfillment work off your plate was the first thing that you did is what it sounds like. Is that right?

[00:09:12] Ashley Shepherd:

Yeah. I got, I didn't get all of it off my plate, but I got a good portion of it off my plate.

[00:09:18] Mike Mark:

And that point in time, what were some of the concerns or challenges that you started to encounter in delegating the work and have like starting to work through your team as opposed to you being there doing it all.

[00:09:31] Ashley Shepherd:

Yeah. At the time I was actually selling one time like a one time sales type of service. And so I was like, I have to make sure I'm selling constantly selling and bringing in new clients. And that was a pain for me is like how I have to make sure my lead gen is on point. My sales pipeline is full and I'm actually closing deals so I have to be on it all the time. And man, now I have to learn how to manage another person, which was a whole other hurdle as well.

[00:10:04] Mike Mark:

And so when you started delegating and managing another person, what were things that you had that you potentially encountered or like the aha moments that you started to feel a shift in being able to be like, oh, okay, I'm starting to get this now.

[00:10:21] Ashley Shepherd:

Yeah. I think that one of the most important things that I kind of knew it going into it is that, if you want your team to do well, you really have to train them on how you want things done and how to do the certain things like tax is a very specific, detailed type of work. And so I need to train my staff on how, like, what are, what does our process look like and how do we, and what's our communication look like and like all these little things. And I felt like if I can train them up on these things, then they're gonna do a kickoffs job and I don't have to micromanage them or step in and, you know, solve problems.

[00:11:03] Mike Mark:

Okay. And was that, was that true?

[00:11:08] Ashley Shepherd:

Definitely. It's like a must.

[00:11:12] Mike Mark:

Interesting. Now at that point, what was the next thing you started to get off your plate once you had the fulfillment off your plate?

[00:11:24] Ashley Shepherd:

Well, I think it was actually just more fulfillment. Right. We were growing and was like, now we have more clients and we can't do this work. So it's like, I'd hire, have some contractors, I'd have another employee help with operations. So it's kind of like more client facing staff up until the point where I'm like, okay, I have that taken care of what's taking up all of my time, which was really phone calls. Three, four phone calls a day. During busy season. I was like drained after it. I couldn't do anything else.

[00:11:59] Mike Mark:

They starts to wear on you after awhile, especially if you've done it for a long time. What was then your process for saying, okay cuz I know for a lot of folks like delegating sales is really scary cause all the revenues depending on you at that moment, and then it's like, what's gonna happen if it doesn't work out in that kind of moment. So what was going through your mind? What happened next when you started to realize like, okay, I gotta get off the phones.

[00:12:31] Ashley Shepherd:

Yeah, I actually started thinking about, okay, how can I make my revenue recurring monthly? And it was 2021 in the middle of the year where I was like, okay, I'm gonna create this new offer to go with our other offer, but it's gonna be monthly recurring revenue. And it's going to be a bigger offer for our next clients that sign on. And so what that actually, I launched that in June and I had 15 clients sign up to that and that really made me feel some peace of mind, like, okay I have not for sure revenue coming in, but at least it's like, I'm pretty sure, you know, they're paying automatically each month unless they cancel. And it just allowed me to kinda step back and see like, okay, I got the revenue coming in. My offers are awesome. And so now what's really like causing me stress or taking up my time. And I just knew I'm like, I have to do this. If I can free up my time, then I can really like focus on the next thing and really drive the company and all of that.

[00:13:39] Mike Mark:

Cool. And then is that when you reached out to us was at that point?

[00:13:44] Ashley Shepherd:


[00:13:44] Mike Mark:

And then how did you find out about us?

[00:13:47] Ashley Shepherd:

I actually found out about you guys through clients and community mastermind group. And when I had reached out, I was like, I don't know if I'm like totally ready, but I wanna see like what it looks like. And on the call, I just was like, that's exactly what I needed. I'm like, I need that. I feel like my life is gonna change. If I fucking go through it with this. That's how big of a pain it was for me. I was causing it so much pain.

[00:14:16] Mike Mark:

It gets to that point after a while. Were you nervous at that moment? Like of like, oh shit, am I really gonna do this?

[00:14:27] Ashley Shepherd:

I was like, Holy fuck, I'm gonna do this. And I felt very confident to be totally honest. I felt like this is what I need to move forward and might be scary to invest in something that you're not sure it's gonna work but I just knew that if I don't do this, I'm holding myself back. I just knew it.

[00:14:50] Mike Mark:

It's one of those things, like, I feel like after you get used to that too, where it's like, okay, if I get this nervous excitement feeling in my stomach, like it's probably an indication that it's the exact thing that I need to do. Yeah. You just start leaning into that. Another question I have for you is at that time, had you considered other alternatives. If yes, what made you say, okay, let's go with CoachingSales.

[00:15:14] Ashley Shepherd:

I actually had posted a job ad for a sales advisor. And I had like 392 applicants and I was like, I don't have fucking time to look through these and I don't even know what I'm looking for. How am I gonna do this? This is gonna take literally a 40 hour work week to look at all of them. And so I got on the phone and they're like, Hey, we do everything for you guys. Like, you don't have to, even, you don't have to do anything. You just talk to them once. And I'm like, all right, that's what I need. I don't need more things to do. I need things off my plate and it just made so much sense to me.

[00:15:50] Mike Mark:

Cool. After you took the leap, then what was your experience from there?

[00:15:57] Ashley Shepherd:

It was interesting. We went through a couple of rounds of applicants and we had some people sign on and they ended up not working out, but we got the next second batch of people and we have two of them still, and they're amazing. They're like rock stars. The second round, I was like, I don't know if I wanna go through this again, you know, whatever. But I was like, I I'm just gonna give it another chance. And I did. And I'm like, I'm so glad that I just, you know, you feel like sometimes when things happen, you're like, this has to be happening for a reason. Part of me was like, I feel like there's a reason why these other people didn't work out. And honestly, like now I'm like, there's definitely a reason cuz these two people I have now are just amazing. So they're better fit. You know, it's just awesome.

[00:16:54] Mike Mark:

It makes the perfect sense. And it's really interesting though, cuz the probability is generally one outta three, right. But you could play a game. Think about it like this. Like you could play a game with a one outta three odds and you could get, you know, three no's in a row. But then you went through the next batch and then you got two out of three, and then it still evens out to like the same probabilities. Right. It's really fascinating when you see it. It's like, it is a one outta three. Like if you do it with the formula of exactly how we ramp wraps, and then the process of it, it just consistently breaks out to like one outta three are gonna stick. And it's interesting that you stuck it out and you said, all right, let's give it another go round. And you got, you got two rock stars on the second batch. As you started, dealing with sales reps in managing and leading the sales reps. Were there any things that you found specifically counterintuitive about leading or managing sales reps as opposed to sometimes potentially other roles in the company?

[00:17:59] Ashley Shepherd:

Hmm. I think it's definitely different. I feel like there's more. They're really there to bring in new business and they're motivated by different things. So I feel like just the conversations we have are just different. The energy is a little different and it's a little bit more, you know, like adrenaline. There's more and it's exciting, you know? I think it's just a different type of relationship, which I enjoy it. That's what I found.

[00:18:47] Mike Mark:

It's totally true. Cuz thething that I always tell business owners is like the sales reps are more like a business owner where as a business owner, we're motivated by freedom and fulfillment. That's why we play the game more than anything versus the sort of employee mindset, which you can be a millionaire, both routes, right? It's not like there's one. And I know like the entrepreneurial community likes to polarize against the nine to five community, but there's lots of career millionaires, you know, out there.

And there's lots of people who have achieved financial freedom through jobs and careers, but they're more so motivated by safety and security in the way that they move. And so starting to manage sales reps, you definitely do notice a distinction between the energy of the sales team, as opposed to a lot of the rest of the organization.

So what then happened like in terms of overall company growth. Cuz usually I see a lot of times there's like a big quantum leak. Once you can get off the phones and then you focus your attention elsewhere and the people are able to take the calls. And if you have your ads dialed in or your lead gen dialed in, you start to crank it up. Like what was sort of that before and after snapshot of you being on the phone so you getting off the phones.

[00:20:09] Ashley Shepherd:

It's kind of funny because before I was like, yeah, I'd close deals, but you know, I'm the type of person where I'm like, I'm not pushy or anything like that. And I find that maybe I just am a little easier on the sales process. And so I find that, yeah, while I close sales, like, you know, my two sales people right now, they they're hungry and they're eager as long as it's good fit to close the sale. And it's been nice because they're not tax experts, so they can't give all this advice out to a prospect. Whereas me I'm like, I feel like, oh, I can't say that I don't know so it's kind of a different thing, but honestly, like they haven't, I feel like they just started five weeks ago. And they've brought in probably six, seven clients like 20, 30k, between there somewhere. They're closing more deals than I would in a week for sure.

[00:21:19] Mike Mark:

Yeah. That's awesome.

[00:21:21] Ashley Shepherd:

It's definitely a nice increase.

[00:21:24] Mike Mark:

Yeah. And it's cool too when it's happening without your time involvement. You know, I think that's a big thing. Now I know you actually have to get to your daily huddle in a bit. I just want to ask before we wrap up, what's next for you? What are you looking at now that you've freed up that time and you're focusing on different areas?

[00:21:49] Ashley Shepherd:

Yeah, for me, next thing is really with three things. Ramping up marketing even more, hiring more team members to take care of all the clients we're getting and, really stepping into that leadership role and working on becoming a better leader.

[00:22:11] Mike Mark:

Heck yeah. Well,, I'm excited to see the rest of your journey and if anybody wants to connect with you on the internet or on social, where can they find you?

[00:22:19] Ashley Shepherd:

Yeah, I'm on Facebook mostly. Just Ashley Shepherd. I'm on there.

[00:22:25] Mike Mark:

Perfect. All right. Well, appreciate you jumping on with us and sharing your journey and for anyone out there who's watching this, hopefully you got a lot out of it and you made some major distinctions, especially I think the thing that stood out to me throughout this was that first couple hundred calls, like you were like, scared but you got through it and you did it anyway. And like hearing that awareness and aha, I think is really huge. . So I was happy that you shared that with everyone there. So thanks again for joining us and appreciate it.

[00:22:59] Ashley Shepherd:

Yeah. Thank you for having me.