Note from John: this guest post comes to you from Mike Arnesen of UpBuild, a Credo partner agency in Portland, Oregon. Mike contacted me about writing this post because he uses a great workflow that helps him qualify leads and send the ones that are not a good fit for his agency to Credo, so that they can find the right agency or consultant for their needs. Mike found that by implementing this into his workflow, his response time to all leads went from, on average, 107 hours (almost 5 days!) to 35h 27m. By responding to leads faster, he closed a few more leads than he would have which amounted to an additional $37,000 in revenue for his agency. The power of sharing! Here’s Mike.

No joke. Sending my sales leads to Credo, a marketplace where folks can go to find reputable marketing consultants, has helped grow my revenue and my business. And not just by a little; I’ve closed $37K in new business in the last two months because of Credo.

Okay, let me back up. I can explain.

I’ve Got a Business to Run

As a first-time agency founder, I had a lot to learn in my first year. What I didn’t know about business development, sales, accounting, and “CEO things” could fill a book. Well, a lot of books. Thankfully, I can get those books on Amazon and I’m making some headway. 😉

One of the things I struggled with the most (and still struggle with) is confidently handling new sales leads. As a first time business owner, I’ve found it challenging to accept that I can’t help everyone. At least, not in the way that I’ve become used to. I was used to being able to give people free SEO help or work through tag manager and JavaScript problems for them in my free time.

Nowadays, “free time” is a word that’s quickly fading from my vocabulary. When I talk to leads these days, I can’t just think about my desire to help them; I need to look at my team’s capacity, our ability to actually turn the engagement into a meaningful partnership, and our cash flow (among other things). It gets even more complex because, at UpBuild, we vote on every potential client before ever sending out a proposal.

Overcoming the Fear of Failure

This seems crazy to me now, but the looming fear that a lead might end up being a poor fit or that we wouldn’t be able to find the bandwidth to help them actually kept me from responding to leads that came in. Sometimes, for weeks at a time.  While I’ve come to accept that there are just some leads who I can’t help, not being able to accept that fact in UpBuild’s early days was a big problem.

When John first told me about Credo, I loved the idea. While I’d referred business to other agencies before, it was always a crapshoot as to whether or not they’d be a good fit or even have their own capacity for the project. What Credo has become for me is a reliable fallback; a safety net of sorts. Since every partner on the site is hand-picked and vetted, it’s somewhere I can confidently refer a close contact and know they’ll be taken care of.

As a result, I don’t ever worry about what will happen if I can’t help a lead; I know Credo’s there to take care of them if the lead doesn’t end up being that perfect fit for UpBuild.

How Credo is Growing My Agency’s Revenue

Knowing that Credo is a tool in my toolbelt has enabled me to respond to every new lead in about 24 hours (I’m still fighting my way to Inbox Zero on a daily basis and I’m shooting to get that to 24 hours or less). I’ll tell them about UpBuild, what our perfect client looks like, and hop on the phone with them and chat. I can do that without fear because I know that I won’t feel like I’m letting them down if it doesn’t work out. If UpBuild isn’t the right fit, I can just refer them to Credo and have faith that they’ll find a vendor who is a good fit for them.

I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t simply imagining a quicker response rate, so I pulled the data. Note that I’m excluding any leads that came to me directly because of a personal connection. These are all leads that came in through the contact form on

Here’s what I found:

Before Credo

  • Average Response Time: 107 hours and 26 minutes (about 4 days)
  • Value of Won Deals: $2,000

After Credo

  • Average Response Time: 35 hours and 27 minutes (getting close to 24 hours!)
  • Value of Won Deals: $37,000*

* There was another big deal that I won during this time period, but it was such a “hot” lead that I would have responded quickly with or without having Credo as a backup. As such, I discounted it from the total.

Since I started promptly responding to every lead that came in (and improving my response time by 66%), I’ve made some big revenue gains for my company. The two big leads I closed recently were leads that I honestly wasn’t sure about when they first came in. I can say pretty confidently that I likely wouldn’t have responded to those leads quickly enough back before I had Credo. Knowing that I’d be able to serve those leads either way allowed me to respond quickly and discover they  were actually a great fit for us.

Do I care that I’m sending potential clients to a page on that’s essentially a list of all my direct competitors? Not at all. The freedom that Credo gives me to explore every potential partnership while having a solid plan B is worth more than any would-be business. The value of any given lead will be different from agency to agency. I think what agency partners on Credo will find over time is that having this resource allows everyone to find their own gold in the sales lead mine.