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Make it Easy for Buyers to Do Business with You w/ Gavin Zuchlinski [Episode 415]

In this episode, we elaborate on making your value proposition more meaningful and believable for buyers.

Joining me on this episode is my guest Gavin Zuchlinski, Founder at Acuity Scheduling.

Key Takeaways

  • Acuity Scheduling is an online tool to help small businesses and professionals manage their day-to-day events. Clients book appointments, and calendars sync.
  • Gavin wrote Acuity for his mother’s business. He also tried it to generate leads for his own web development business, and that didn’t work, but people liked the product, so he grew it slowly, while still working in cyber security.
  • Acuity allows scheduling while you are not available to answer a call, with no back-and-forth. What kinds of sales uses has Gavin seen?
  • What important benefits has Gavin’s mother’s business received through using an online scheduler?
  • Gavin describes Acuity’s market: it is “vertical agnostic,” so it is useful in many environments. Acuity provides excellent customer support, and is lean, easy-to-use, and powerful.
  • Acuity principles: simplicity, brand customization, and automatic syncing to prevent double-booking of resources.
  • Gavin talks about time saved with online booking, and the convenience to the customer setting the appointment.
  • Gavin cites percentages of users who prefer to book online rather than calling for an appointment. He also mentions email notification of appointments.
  • By reducing friction for the prospect, you boost successful connections. What sort of approaches does Gavin suggest to promote online booking?
  • Acuity provides a variety of approaches and sequences to send appointment reminders.
  • Gavin covers some of the platforms with which Acuity integrates, either directly, or with a connector. Customer service can guide you for your specific application.
  • Gavin gives examples of custom uses, including bowling parties, donut delivery, salons, sales teams, and automatic setup of video meetings.

Episode Transcript

Andy Paul  0:58  

Hello and welcome to the Sales Enablement Podcast. Joining me on the show today is my guest Gavin Zuchlinski. I got it right that time, who’s the founder of Acuity Scheduling, joining me from Pennsylvania, Gavin, how are you today?


Gavin Zuchlinski  1:33  

I’m doing great. Thank you for having me on here.


Andy Paul  1:35  

So take a minute, just introduce yourself. Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started in business.


Gavin Zuchlinski  1:43  

So I’m Gavin. My background is technical. I am the founder of Acuity Scheduling. It’s an online tool to help small businesses and professionals of all sorts just manage their day to day of appointments. So you can have your clients book appointments online with you and it’ll magically appear in all of your calendars. Make sure that you’re never double booked and connect to all the tools that you use. So it was something that way back in the day I originally created for my mom, she’s a massage therapist, and then from there, it has expanded to 10s of thousands of small businesses and other professionals and enterprises and everything. So it’s been a great journey for me.


Andy Paul  2:25  

Let’s do a little research on you. That background may be somewhere in cybersecurity.


Gavin Zuchlinski  2:32  

Oh, yeah, yeah, it’s been a circuitous path to so when I originally did this, my background was web development for the longest time, and I ended up creating Acuity for my mom, I was originally trying to use this as I saw her struggling with just the back and forth of employment, and then I figured I’d put it out online too, and I’d use this as a way to generate leads for myself. But then the product itself took off. But it took off a slow start because at first I wasn’t 100% invested into it. But yeah, for a good six, seven years, I was in the Washington DC area, working with the government on some really fun, technical and security projects.


Andy Paul  3:21  

Okay, so yeah, we won’t delve too much into that. But what were the problems your mom was having that became this impetus?


Gavin Zuchlinski  3:42  

So clients would call her because she didn’t have a receptionist of any sort. And they’d end up calling her and just either just play phone tag with messages back and forth, trying to find a time that’s right by the time she’d leave them a message that said, Hey, Tuesday at 2pm is available and they call back Tuesday, and then it was gone.There’s that real time nature of everything too. And then not only that is I would end up seeing her. And just people trying to call and say reschedule things or cancel things and then to go like, they’d have to tell her Oh, well, I can’t, I got to take Emily to the doctor, her kidney stones are acting up again. And I won’t be able to make it to her appointment, and just go on and on and on and on and on. And after we put it out there, I saw that there were tons of other businesses that had the same thing. from everybody, like people that I expected, like people like my mom, all the way to just all sorts of different ones. We have people doing donut deliveries, and then we just have tons and tons of people using it to manage their sales processes so that leads can come schedule their appointments and you don’t have to worry about the back and forth they can be nice and convenient for them. The other thing that I ended up seeing firsthand with my mom was that most of the people who would end up booking her would actually do it at times when she wasn’t at the office when she was just away. So most of her appointments ended up coming. When it was most convenient for the client to be able to book it, not necessarily. She was there accepting calls and also, you know, when you’re on a call with somebody, you’re not actively accepting appointments either. So it ended up expanding her practice through that too.


Andy Paul  5:30  

Well, I was gonna ask that question because it is one of the results of using a scheduler and we’ll talk about your mom for a bit before we jump into the business to business side of things, but did she see her business increase?


Gavin Zuchlinski  5:43  

Yes, and it’s something to where you know, I also help her out there’s things that we see all people need to do to try to get their business online. And getting a scheduler there, I think is why we’ve seen this with several other people. There’s also professional practice in Australia, I think it’s a law firm of sorts. That was that contacted us, they’d been a longtime customer. And they ended up telling us there were a couple other firms that ended up starting at the same time. That is, they were quite honest, they didn’t say that they weren’t any better than the other one. But just that their business ended up expanding, a couple of them went out of business, and a couple of them hadn’t expanded at the rate that they did. Right. And they think that it was just out of online scheduling. I’m sure that they’re really fantastic at their business. But I think whatever you do, if you make it easier for your customers, when we make it easier for them, it’s going to have them an affinity towards you, which hopefully results in your business expanding.


Andy Paul  6:43  

Yeah, I mean that I agree that you get that rapport building. So there are a lot of scheduling apps that are available. And we could probably spend half an hour just trying to name those that are available. So how are you different? How is Acuity different from the other names that people are familiar with that may be in the signature bars of many of the people that are listening to the show?


Gavin Zuchlinski  7:05  

Yeah, you know, it’s really funny what we end up seeing is there are so many other ones around and we’re really vertical agnostic. So it will be used from all sorts from from sales to massage therapists to donut delivery. And it’s generally within your particular community. There’s just an adoption of one because having any scheduler is hands down better than having none. Just having that convenience. Everything else doesn’t mean you’re using the absolute best one but it does mean that you’re using something that is way better than the phone tag and back and forth fails. So if you have one, just I’m happy that that is making me happy. But second of all the how we’ve ended up really growing is we’re extremely close to our customers and provide excellent customer support. And through that listening and everything Acuity has been around for quite a while and because of that we have a lot of experience trying to build something that is incredibly lean, easy to use. But at the same time very powerful. And there’s a couple of driving principles that I personally have. And I’m not trying to sell anybody on Acuity in particular, because I would love everybody to just use a scheduler even if it’s not us.

So I personally believe that you should make it as dead simple as possible for your customers. And whatever you’re using should be reflecting your brand, not whoever the scheduler is. So if you’re seeing their name plastered above there in the upper right corner, in the emails and everywhere else, they’re just promoting themselves and not us. So besides having all the power to be able to just accept appointments and everything else, you can completely customize it to reflect your brand, reflect what your colors what everything else looks like, have the emails Say what you want, which in the end, means we see higher conversion rates from you because you’re able to customize everything to match your brand, give them the comfort that when you’re talking to people, you’re speaking to them in the terms that they they refer to. And it looks like they’re speaking with you instead of just giving their information to some third party service. The other thing too, is we strongly believe in being able to connect, and you run your business however you’d like. And then we want to be able to fit into there. So because of that, we create everything very flexibly. So you can really model your availability and your times and and make it so that everything can be put on autopilot. And that means being able to connect to all of your calendars, set up complex availability. So if you have 10 sales people on a team and you have a couple of conference rooms that you need for particular demos, you can just put all of this information in there. So when a client goes they just see the combined availability right here, but they pick a time that’s available, and we work out to make sure that the rooms are actually available. But it’s not double booked with your outlook 365, your exchange calendar, your calendar thing else, and then connect so you can ever program you use like GoToMeeting or zoom and integrate with those will see the availability on those other calendars that you can integrate them into acuity. Yes, yeah, yeah, absolutely. And besides just calendars we integrate with a ton. So it means that like, you can put everything onto autopilot, really, and make sure that all of your time is taken care of that when somebody comes in. When a lead comes in, they’re assigned somebody, they’re actually available, all the resources are available, it’s added to your calendar, there’s nothing on your calendar that’s blocking off. And if you use other tools, if you use pipe drive or anything else, it’s all connected into there and all of the information all shows up into one place. So hopefully in the end everything’s beautifully connected. And besides just saving the time from scheduling appointments, you’ve saved time with all that setup that you normally do.


Andy Paul  10:56  

So are there any stat sales or industry stats about? Okay, salespeople just throw that, you know, if you want a time with me schedule, click on the link in their signature block any stats about whether that works or not?


Gavin Zuchlinski  11:19  

Mmm, it’s interesting. So we, we’ve measured, a few stats we measure, like time savings is one of the common ones. And we use that based on self reported measures. And typically, for people that use online scheduling in general, even combined with other things, they’re saving what roughly amounts to about 2.5 weeks per year, assuming that their full day is scheduling out. And that’s based off of self reported stats about how much people perceive time that they’re saving every week.


Andy Paul  11:50  

Hey, if you’re a sales rep, you’re putting the eight SDR, whatever, and you’re putting that in your email signature block. Is that alert for people to click on it? I mean, does that actually work? or driving to see what the best practices are for sales in terms of how we use the scheduling?


Gavin Zuchlinski  12:14  

 I’m not sure about that. In particular, we do offer a couple of things that you can track if you want it on your own. And I’d be curious if anybody does offer that. What we do see through, is some people still manage appointments on their own, and they use it to send out reminders but of the people who are letting clients book their own appointments, generally about 90% of people if they make it obvious enough, and that means you’re making it obvious on their website and everywhere else prefer to book themselves to so be able to?


Andy Paul  12:47  

That’s interesting, because I was reading a post just last week, somewhere there was actually somebody pushing back on that about, you know, making customers do the work of scheduling and I was sort of thinking, I want Is that really is that really work? Or is that you know, their convenience?


Gavin Zuchlinski  13:04  

Yeah, yeah, I find that really interesting. I’d love to see that one. But this is, of course, users of our service, who we surveyed. And of course it’s like 99% of businesses prefer that their clients book online, which is kind of self selecting right there. But for the customers of the businesses, I was really happy to see that 90% number. And it could be because we try to make it as easy as possible. And there’s a chance that if you’re surveying people of I don’t know, something else that requires you to register for an account and jumped through all sorts of hoops that I personally wouldn’t want to do that anyway.


Gavin Zuchlinski  13:42 

But for our users, we see about 90% of them. And as we start to drill down into the reasons why the well the convenience is one of them. Just the ease of use not having to go to the back and forth. The timing of it is that people are able to do it. impulse things when they remember not necessarily when the other person is available. So sort of falls into the tire, but also just personal issues with it. And then, I mean, this could be something particular with our other service. But a lot of people prefer to do that too, just so that they can keep track of things, it tends to clear up communication a lot when both the practitioner and or the salesperson and your client, your customer are on the same page with everything where you’re all getting the same notifications, the same emails, everybody is much more in line to and we see and we hear people saying that it clears up communication a lot between the customer and you and then also within your business too. So there’s less confusion for you as the customer when you’re going forward and you’re trying to figure out like well when was the last time did I talk to like who did I talk to last time and and all of that so we tend to see people once they start scheduling online continue to like doing it because of that as well.


Andy Paul  15:00  

Alright, so one of the central challenges in business to business sales is just getting hold of a prospect. I mean, I think it’s like 18 touches on average sometimes before you can get the first contact, first conversation. Is there anything you’ve seen inherent about schedulers that can help address that issue somehow?


Gavin Zuchlinski  15:16  

Well, I think part of it too, is just like we talked about the friction of it by reducing friction in any way possible for your prospects you’re trying, you’re making it much easier for them. So if they don’t have to, you know, call you back and get you while you’re in your office and then miss you a bunch of times, it’s probably a lot easier just to be able to click a link and you can get into that impulse area. The other thing too, that we see most successful people do is they’re putting the ability to schedule in as many places as they can. So we’ll do like you mentioned, the email signature is a fantastic one. And I see people do that they’re adding an event in addition to they’re adding an explicit call to action. Like I’ll generally say like, just Please go here at or go here and pick a time that’s most convenient for you.


Andy Paul  16:06  

In the body of the email.


Gavin Zuchlinski  16:07  

Yeah, yeah, exactly in the body email in the context of the email. And that helps too, that way, because, at least with some of the email clients that I use, email signatures can get hidden and all of that, right, put it in the body makes it more clear. Okay, that’s a good tip. Yeah, for people who are on the phone a lot. Always, always, always add it to your voicemail message too. And it tends to be cut down. We’ll have a number of voicemails that you have, and then just the back and forth too. So that one too is probably one of the most common ones that adds the most bang for your buck. And that was what a lot of people forget about too. 


Andy Paul  16:40  

We go into voicemail limited and you do customize the URL.


Gavin Zuchlinski  16:46  

Yeah, exactly, exactly. So you can do yeah, zero time selling out acuity scheduler commands you put in there, which is just for you, or you can embed it onto your own website too. So you could just say, Hey, leave a message here if you’re looking to book an appointment Go to zero time selling comm slash schedule, and you can pick at a time and instantly confirm it on there with me.


Andy Paul  17:07  

Yeah, or perhaps even sends me a text as a follow up just with the link in it to confirm right to the voicemail.


Gavin Zuchlinski  17:14  

Exactly what I was gonna say too is text message is another way that people find us. And it’s really great at least, our service, and I know tons of other ones work well on mobile, because mobile is we see probably, I don’t know, somewhere around half of the appointments come from mobile. So making sure that it is good, people don’t have to type that much on there is a good one. Yes. So try to make it as easy as possible. They’re like, for us too. We will let you add custom forms and collect all sorts of information. But if you know that your prospects are going to be joining you from mobile, I definitely recommend trying to keep that light on all the required information that they need to put because the more I feel that you have to have, the less light They are to fill everything out


Andy Paul  18:01  

Or make an error perhaps.


Gavin Zuchlinski  18:03  

Yeah, yeah, exactly, exactly. So it all gets down to the fact that you’re already trying to reduce the friction of what it takes for somebody to get in touch with you because of that. And then the other thing too is trying to reduce the no show rate. Like let’s say you have an appointment booked. That’s one thing you tried to make that really easy to send reminders, right? Is making sure that they actually show up.


Andy Paul  18:26  

Yeah, the yield rate on meetings is hugely important, especially in inside sales. So I’m sure acuity I would suggest I would hope would be sending out now to enable you to send out reminder emails.


Gavin Zuchlinski  18:38  

Yeah, exactly. And I think tons and tons. 


Andy Paul  18:42  

Actually, I find it interesting because I use a scheduler, book hundreds of people every year for the show. And I’m always sort of amused by those people that didn’t want me to send them a calendar invite as well. And so they’re just using the scheduler, but that’s like, could you send me a calendar invite  but it’s on your calendar. I guess some habits are hard to break.


Gavin Zuchlinski  19:11  

Yeah. So at least with ours will send out you can add even more reminder emails and everything, too. So what we see is people use this to set up sort of a drip series before your call. So if somebody has a call with you, maybe a week out, you have just an email that automatically goes out, say, the appointment has the calendar invite on there well, and plus, they have quick ways to add it to whichever calendar they use on the final page. But then you can send 1233 reminders, you can even get aggressive at starting sending text messages that tends to work better for different audiences as well.


Andy Paul  19:49  

So you can do that all through Acuity. So do a drip campaign, a sequence of some sort of workflow to work you want to use and so not.


Gavin Zuchlinski  19:59  

Yeah, yeah. So, especially it will for podcasts host too, we tend to see this as really successful when you start out a drip campaign and you say like, here’s a reminder, like, make sure you have a good microphone, there are some things that we recommend we’re going to be take a listen to these were the best ranked episodes that we’ve had, maybe have a listen and get some suggestions out of there.


Andy Paul  20:22  

Good Idea.


Gavin Zuchlinski  20:24  

Yeah, use it to add address, then that’s where we get into the customization bit that I mentioned before, too, is because you’re able to customize these things, you know, to reflect your brand and everything, you’re also you’re able to add whatever, you can add whatever you want. And there’s when you find people are maybe not showing up because they’re confused about where to go. Let’s say they actually have to show up at an office or something like that. You can add directions saying we’re right across the McDonald’s and, and grab a coffee on your way or something like that. And you can really tailor it to them and figure out what all these objections are, again, lowering whatever friction it takes. So After you’ve already gotten the person trying to inch up your everything’s that people really have no reason at all not to show up with you too.


Andy Paul  21:09  

I think again, increasing sales that is an issue is just getting people to show up once they’ve committed to do something, whether it’s saying show up for a software demo or show up for a discovery call, you know, it’s all probably being held, virtually right. So being able to get a higher yield out of that is really important. And yes, I mean,I had one client, how we just focus purely on increasing their yield out of second calls from first calls, and it made a huge difference. So I could see a tool like this. That’s really I didn’t realize you could do the sequence. I think that’s an interesting feature.


Gavin Zuchlinski  21:44  

Yeah, yeah. So it’s the reminder sequence before an appointment. And then you can also add follow ups after too so you can send an automatic follow up message, say like, Hey, we just, we just chatted two days ago around. Here’s some extra information that you might find useful or here’s where you can go. To after you if you have an initial discovery call, here’s where you can go to book your other sessions and things like that, too. So then do you integrate with some of the sales development platforms or marketing automation platforms? Yes, we do integrate with several of them. So one of the so we integrate with dozens of things directly we integrate with drip MailChimp. There’s an Infusionsoft connector for Acuity. And then we also integrate with Zapier as well, which lets you sort of build however you want to connect to things that lets you connect to Salesforce and many other ones too. And then we are constantly having new integrations developed as well.


Andy Paul  23:19  

So what are some of the craziest and some of the most interesting, you know, applications you’ve seen of your product? I mean, it’d be interesting. So give people sort of food for thought for how they might use it themselves.


Gavin Zuchlinski  23:34  

Yeah, we have so many of them. I mean, it’s, it’s kind of funny, like, there are some wild applications. There’s like somebody who’s a bowling alley that used it to like book book parties and book your bowling lanes and then like they added on things that you could add nachos onto there. And then like make sure that if you’re booking a party, you can get two lanes next to each other and be able to model that.


Andy Paul  23:56  

A crazy wild thing so they could schedule food ordering on it.


Gavin Zuchlinski  23:59  

Oh, Yeah there’s a donut delivery service that uses it. 


Andy Paul  26:58  

Why I think to check this out effort, because I know you used my scheduling system to book this.But I was just saying, I don’t think this one has the ability to do what I need, which is I’ve got two calendars, you know, one for my podcast scheduling and, and work and then one for, like, I have two companies, right. So it’s like one for one company and one for another. And the two don’t meet right now. So it sounds like I could probably do that with Acuity.


Gavin Zuchlinski  27:27  

Yeah, we can definitely talk more after we get off of this. But yeah, I have the same thing. I have my work calendar, and I have my personal one and why I use this for scheduling meetings with myself too. And when my wife booked something on the calendar with me, I really don’t want to have a meeting at the same time with somebody else. 


Andy Paul  27:45  

So Gavin now, we’re moving to the last segment, the show where I’ve got some standard questions to ask all my guests. And the first one is a hypothetical scenario in which you Gavin, I’ve just been hired as vice president of sales. A company whose sales have stalled out, and I saw it hit up through and CEO was anxious to get things turned around. So what two things could you do your first week on the job that would have the biggest impact?


Gavin Zuchlinski  28:14  

Geez, well, you I think are probably asking somebody different than most of your folks. I come from a technical background in one building products. 


Andy Paul  28:22  

We’ve had lots of product and technical people. Okay, good. But you are the CEO. So you?


Gavin Zuchlinski  28:27  

Yeah, okay. So honestly, the biggest thing that I have seen affect sales is doing user studies where we go out and we actually reach search people and dry the biggest objections and then solve that in the product itself. And then, honestly, I think doubling down on a product is the biggest thing, both understanding the user and then solving the experience. Um, we’ve seen the product sell itself better than anything.


Andy Paul  28:54  

Okay. All right, good answer. Okay, so some rapid fire questions you can give me one word answers or elaborate if you wish. The first one is when Gavin is selling your services like you just did. What’s your most powerful sales attribute?


Gavin Zuchlinski  29:09  

I’m terrible at sales. For me. It’s the product itself that really sells itself.


Andy Paul  29:14  

All right, well, don’t undersell yourself. So. So do you have a sales role model? 


Gavin Zuchlinski  29:24  

I think the one person that I love to look at is Jeff Bezos model that he has built for Amazon, both with supporting and actually selling things is very user centric. 


Andy Paul  29:39  

Actually, I quote him at the start of my second book, amp up your sales because I think he described sales better than anybody. And he said, you know, we don’t make money when we sell things. We make money when we help customers make purchase decisions. And to me if every person in sales kept that in mind, it’s about helping the customer make a purchase decision. Then They’d be much more successful.


Gavin Zuchlinski  30:02  

Absolutely. It’s so customer centric, and that’s what I love about him. 


Andy Paul  30:05  

Okay. Um, so one book you’d recommend every salesperson should read.


Gavin Zuchlinski  30:19  

Let me say I particularly love Delivering Happiness by Shea. What’s his first name? Tony Shea.


Andy Paul  30:28  

Yeah, yeah. Tony Shea.


Gavin Zuchlinski  30:29  

Just because, again, something very user centric. 


Andy Paul  30:34  

Yeah. Great book. Great organization. All right, so last question for you. What music has on your playlist right now?


Gavin Zuchlinski  30:41  

Oh, well, you are talking to me right before Christmas. So it is all Christmas songs. 


Andy Paul  30:49  

I don’t like Christmas songs.


Gavin Zuchlinski  30:51  

It’s cold outside. Just you got so many editions of that one man. He can just keep listening to it all over again.


Andy Paul  30:58  

That’s true. I thought about that.


Gavin Zuchlinski  31:01  



Andy Paul  31:02  

Well, you could have a playlist that’s purely baby. It’s cold outside. 


Gavin Zuchlinski  31:05  

My gosh. All right, that would drive me nuts. Yeah.


Andy Paul  31:47  

All right. Well, Gavin, thanks for joining me today. And friends. Thank you for spending time with us. Remember making a part of your day every day to deliberately learn something new to help you accelerate your success and an easy way to do that. Don’t miss any of my conversations with top business experts like my guest today Gavin Zuchlinski. I failed the last time I got it right every other time but that one now he’s laughing at me who shared his expertise but how to accelerate the growth of your business. So thanks for joining me. Until next time, this is Andy Paul. Good selling everyone. Thanks for listening to the show. If you like what you heard, and want to make sure you don’t miss any upcoming episodes, please subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.com for more information about today’s guests, visit my website at AndyPaul.com