Lisa Canning: Assisting Early-Stage Businesses to Grow

The 10 Most Influential People to Follow, 2022

With a love for the arts, entrepreneurship, creativity, and innovation, Lisa CanningCEO and Founder of Sales Maven LLC, has developed and helped others develop, ventures at the intersection of their creativity and business ideas for over 30 years. Lisa Canning is a trailblazing female entrepreneur who started her first business at the age of 17 from her Northwestern University dorm room.

Getting past 1to 5 million is a really hard thing to do without an affordable village of savvy support that is sophisticated and agile. According to Lisa, most small businesses don’t have the necessary people or processes to continue to grow. Her vision is to help more companies be able to create greater traction and grow more quickly with a dedicated team that, while outsourced, fits within their company culture and provides them with exactly what they need to create predictable growth. She says, “Nothing feels better as a founder than knowing you are in control of your dream and on the right path to success.”

Sales Maven

Lisa’s Clarinet Shop, another of Lisa’s businesses, was used to bootstrap Sales Maven. She is a trained professional clarinetist who has spent the last 40 years assisting others in the music industry in turning their ideas into viable enterprises.

Sales Maven provides sales and marketing consulting services to small firms in the United States with less than 20 employees that have one or more established niches and require a cost-effective sales and marketing plan. The team combines people, processes, and sales and marketing activities to produce predictable income in 6-12 months at a low cost, allowing owners to scale, exit, or simply sleep better at night.

The company’s service offerings are a blend of digital marketing and traditional sales support. SEO, video, webinars, written and social content strategy and development, email marketing, cold list building, inside and outside sales support, sales script writing, video letters, and management services are all available with its staff of over 100 experts.

Practical Work Experience and Learning Through It

Lisa was groomed to be a professional clarinetist, a soloist who performs with orchestras, but she realized she was far more interested in assisting people than in putting herself in the spotlight. She started her first business from her dorm room at Northwestern University when she was 17 years old, and she rapidly realized that the musical abilities she was honing taught her almost all she needed to know about business. She says, “The parts I didn’t know—reading a profit and loss statement and managing money—I learned from my father, who was a successful criminal attorney turned businessman. What I discovered early on was that it takes an incredible amount of tenacity, perseverance, willingness to fall down seven times and stand back up eight, organizational skills, and ability to assess risk to play the clarinet well or grow a business.

Performing in real time, while not a direct comparison to the daily challenges of building a business, has taught Lisa how to accomplish more in far less time by using the knowledge to communicate and act in an organized way to achieve results faster. She sees that the pressure one faces to perform in ‘real time’ teaches him or her a lot about delivering excellence efficiently, as she has discovered. She feels grateful for the discipline she gained from her journey as a musician and what it brings to her creative problem-solving abilities and communication style in business.

Sales Maven’s CEO

Lisa strives to offer a friendly, supportive atmosphere for her staff so that they are inspired to go above and beyond to meet the requirements of consumers in any situation. Her role is to continue to improve the organization’s and team’s skills in order to provide even more value to consumers. She says, “I work hard at building an open, communicative virtual work environment that offers enough structure and equally enough opportunity for advancement, creativity, and new ideas to be shared.”  She believes that when employees can tell you have their best interests at heart, your customers will know it too.

Updating during the Pandemic

It’s not simple to run an established company and a startup at the same time. After building up all of its service offerings with a much smaller clientele, Sales Maven was at a crossroads and ready to shift to a bigger customer base just before COVID-19 began. As a result, in 2020, it renamed itself Sales Maven.

Sales Maven’s staff has always dealt with customers with revenue of 0-500K, but most of them couldn’t afford to accomplish what they wanted to do with the company since they were so young. As a result, when contracts expired, Sales Maven let those clients go and didn’t seek additional potential clients. Lisa says, “At the time, we didn’t realize that COVID-19 was literally right around the corner.”

When COVID hit the US, it brought both businesses to a standstill. Lisa built Sales Maven to help businesses like her clarinet shop (1M+ in revenue with less than 20 employees operating in the US who have 1 or more proven niches and need an efficient growth strategy). “So, while the music industry was down 50-75% overall, the SEO strategy we implemented for Lisa’s Clarinet Shop helped us end 2020 with only a 10% decline in business because of the marketing and sales support we received from Sales Maven. The synergy of both companies got us through a tough period, frankly, “ Lisa says.  

Greatest Achievement

Lisa is extremely proud of her Sales Maven team. The team’s goal, from Sana Umer, her co-founder, to Heather McNeice, her chief operating officer, was to hire the best and brightest digital marketers from around the world who could bring a fresh perspective, agility, and affordability to the marketplace so that more companies could afford to build robust sales and marketing engines that would significantly improve their bottom lines. The firm’s workforce is curious, takes initiative, works extremely hard, and proves their capacity to lead on a regular basis. She asserts, “I am so proud of them. We truly have a remarkable team committed to our client’s success. In the music industry, it has always been really challenging to build this kind of team. While we have it now at the clarinet shop, it was so much easier to cultivate with Sales Maven. “ She further adds, “It also means a lot to me that we are building this kind of culture with a global workforce of women, many of whom are moms. Our staff of both men and women works for us from Kenya, Pakistan, India, Belize, Honduras, Venezuela, Nigeria, and the USA. ”

Enjoy Work Everyday

Lisa says when defining her work-life balance, “I love the work I do.” It may be troublesome, she says, since if it doesn’t seem like work, it’s easy to spend all of your time doing it. She is continually striving for more balance in her life for the sake of gaining a new viewpoint.

Lisa swims in the pool most mornings and goes for daily walks with her dog Fiona, when she has the opportunity, she likes preparing meals for her family and generally has 1-2 individuals under her wing who she mentors. “Fortunately, my husband is very supportive and is a decent cook when he applies himself. It’s great to be married to a man who values the investments I have made and encourages me daily,” Lisa says. 

Future Plans

Lisa’s goal is to help companies realize their value potential while also reaching their ultimate purpose via creativity. She says, “Our goals are to see how many companies we can help achieve their goals.” There is nothing more satisfying than seeing the value you can bring to a company that is excellent at delivering a product or service but simply needs skill sets they don’t have in sales and marketing to achieve the results they most want. “  She believes that we all need to use our gifts in life to their highest and best use. When we work with others who do the same, we exponentially multiply their impact. Synergies- when combined with excellent strategy and execution- create momentum, which in turn creates success.

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