I hang out with agency owners every day and 95% of them resist proactive business development for as long as they can. Until that big client starts to give “I want to break up” signs, they are happy to rely on referrals and anyone who crosses the threshold as a substitute for a true biz dev program.
Most owners will tell me that they either hate sales or they’re terrible at them. But the reality is – you are all brilliant sales people because you are not a sales person. You are uniquely skilled at having business conversations at a level that no average salesperson can have.
The other excuse some owners will offer is that they are introverts, which means they can’t be good at sales. Again, I disagree. The key to good sales is asking better questions and listening with more intentionality and no one is better at that then someone who is more introverted.
All of this is why I invited Matthew Pollard to be on the show. He’s here to share insights from his work and from his forthcoming book, The Introvert’s Edge. He’s got some really great things to share to get us out of our reluctance about selling and networking.
Can narrowing our niche help us sell better? Matthew thinks so. Should we get beyond describing our work as a functional skill – the same skill everyone in the marketplace has? Matthew knows getting beyond functional skill is a crucial step.
Matthew is the Rapid Growth Guy. He’s dedicated to helping small business owners succeed by giving them methods that helped them transform their business from struggling into profitable success stories. He is the founder and executive director of the Small Business Festival, ranked among the top five conferences in the nation by Inc. magazine. He is in the international sales blogger awards hall of fame and has been featured in Entrepreneur, CEO magazine, Fortune, you name it.
But what we care about is that he’s going to help us be smarter about selling.
What you’ll learn about in this episode:
- How to craft a unified message about why people should work with you
- The difference between your functional skills and the reason people actually work with you
- The three-step process to rapid growth
- Why you don’t have to be an extrovert to be excellent at sales
- Plenty of life hacks for your next networking event
- How to stand out when your services have been commoditized
- Why bending yourself to perceived market “needs” will leave you tired and frustrated
- How niching narrows your market in all the right ways
- The folly of sharing a bland message in a crowded market – and what to do instead
- Why a small niche you are excited about is better than a giant market you don’t care about
The Golden Nuggets:“You’ve got to realize that if you're a business owner and you’re not ‘in sales’ you’re really just counting down the days until your business shuts down.” - @MatthewPollard_ Click To Tweet “Don't go to a networking event with a friend. Go by yourself and talk to three specific people. When you’ve done that, you'll find that your momentum has increased.” - @MatthewPollard_ Click To Tweet “How do you compete in a crowded market? The first step is to avoid the battle altogether.” [email protected]_ Click To Tweet “You have to know what you’re passionate about and why you got into doing what you do. You need to tap back into what you're excited about, why you do what you do.” - @MatthewPollard_ Click To Tweet “If you define yourself by a functional skill, you are a commodity.” - @MatthewPollard_ Click To Tweet “When you've created a message that you're so excited about that you're willing to tell everybody in the world, now all of a sudden some markets are not as interesting as others to you.” - @MatthewPollard_ Click To Tweet “Focus your attention on making sure you speak the exact message that excites you. Sharing a bland message in a highly competitive market right gets you exactly nowhere.” - @MatthewPollard_ Click To Tweet “If you discover a niche that you only had one or two clients in, don't be fearful of that. Be excited that you are starting with two clients!” - @MatthewPollard_ Click To Tweet
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Ways to contact Matthew/Resources:
- Website: matthewpollard.com
- Podcast: matthewpollard.com/better-business-coach/forget-about-goals-why-is-the-key-to-success
- Free chapter: matthewpollard.com/theintrovertsedge/book
We’re proud to announce that Hubspot is now the presenting sponsor of the Build A Better Agency podcast! Many thanks to them for their support!
If you’re going to take the risk of running an agency, shouldn’t you get the benefits too? Welcome to Agency Management Institute’s Build a Better Agency podcast, presented by HubSpot. We’ll show you how to build an agency that can scale and grow with better clients, invested employees and best of all, more money to the bottom line. Bringing his 25+ years of experience as both an agency owner and agency consultant, please welcome your host, Drew McClellan.
Hey, everybody. Welcome back to another episode of Build a Better Agency. Today, we are going to talk about sales. Let me tell you a little bit about the guests that I have with us to dig into that topic and then we’re going to get right into it.
Matthew Pollard is the “Rapid Growth Guy”. He’s dedicated to helping small business owners succeed by giving them methods that help them transform their business from struggling into profitable success stories. He is the founder and executive director of the Small Business Festival, ranked among the top five conferences in the nation by Inc. Magazine.
He is sought after to judge at many of the US’s most prominent startup events, including Google Startup Weekend and others. He is in the International Sales Blogger Awards Hall of Fame, and has been featured in Entrepreneur, CEO Magazine and Fortune, Forbes, you name it. But what we care about is that he’s going to help us be smarter about selling. That’s where we’re going to focus. Matthew, welcome to the podcast.
Drew, I’m very happy to be here. Thank you for having me on.
You bet. As we were talking about before I hit the record button, in most agencies’ world, some of them have Biz Dev people on staff, but for the most part, the agency owner is the salesperson and it is one of many hats they wear. And quite honestly, for most of them, it’s not a hat they enjoy. Once they’re in front of a prospect, they enjoy that part of the process but the getting of the meeting and getting on someone’s radar screen is not something that most of them enjoy. So as you might imagine, as busy as they are, they find ways to dodge it. I suspect that that’s not uncommon for you to see business owners who don’t really love the art of selling.
Let’s face it, most people get into small business especially and small business has varying different analogies. But most people get into business because they want to build a business around doing what they love, their functional skill. They didn’t into business to be a salesperson, they didn’t want to be a salesperson. They kind of figured out that they needed to be several months in when they realized that the money wasn’t hitting the bank account like they expected. And the people that they spoke to that said, “100%, I will work with you when you open up your own business,” didn’t come across or they did but then after a few months, they weren’t providing repeat business or they weren’t referring their friends and they couldn’t get new clients and all of a sudden, things go flat.
Right. Because you’re exactly right, nobody opens an agency because they want to be a sales guy. So how does someone wrap their head around? How do you re-jigger your brain to realize that A, you’re capable of it and B, it’s not as horrible as you have convinced yourself that it is?
But it is as horrible as you’ve convinced yourself that it is. No, I’m joking.
I was going to say everyone just to stop listening to us now. So it’s just you and me talking.
First, I think Peter Thiel, actually, he’s one of the founders of PayPal and I think he said it best. He said, “If your business consists of just you and your laptop, look around. If you don’t see any sales people, you’re the salesperson.” You’ve got to realize that if you’re in business and you’re not in sales, you’re really just counting down the days until your business shuts down.
You have to make the decision, “I’m actually in sales.” This is what I do for a living. Yes, I do this functional skill and that’s what I love. But unless I sell, I’m not going to be able to continue running my business. Now, we can go into some strategies because I know a lot of people that come to me and they’re after sales techniques, sales tactics to be better at doing what they’re doing. And a lot of times if you start with sales, you’ve kind of already lost. There’s a lot of things you can do.
I always say rapid growth is really around three steps, differentiating and creating that unified message that separates you from everyone else. The thing that expires people who want to know more, then niching to develop a market of willing to buy clients and then sales systematization. But a lot of people are really happy to talk about marketing and branding and niching. But when it comes to the sales, they still don’t want to do it. So the people that are in that boat, the best way I can explain it is when I was just turned 19 and I was working in a real estate agency. Before people imagined me as the salesperson, I was the guy in the back office with a look on my face saying, “Please don’t talk to me. I’m here to find myself for the year.”
I [inaudible 00:04:59] in late high school. School was really hard for me. I got into the top 20% of the state, but it had worn me out and I just needed a year off to just really figure out what it was I wanted to do. Well, I’d worked there for three weeks and my boss comes up to me, he goes, “Matt, I’ve got some bad news. The company’s going bankrupt and you’re out of the job.” I had worked there for three weeks.
Now, to put this in perspective, this was just before Christmas. Now, in America, you can get another job around that time because you take time off at Thanksgiving, you take time off at Christmas, but you don’t take a lot of time off. Because it’s winter, it’s cold, you’re going to see your family, you’re going to get back to work and then you’ll take some more time off in the summer.
In Australia, we take our Christmas and our summer break at the same time. We go away on the 20th of December, and we’re not coming back until the 15th, the 20th of January. There’s just not a business owner to be seen. So I had to find a job and the only job I could find, you guessed it, commission only sales. So if you can imagine a guy that is terrified of speaking to his own friends really and terrified of being the one that everyone’s focusing on, now he’s thrown to this commission on the sales job, he gets five days of product training, not a single ounce of sales training. I get thrown on this road called Sydney Road and it’s just shop after shop after shop of these struggling to survive retail suites.
Most people when I say-
It was horrific. I was terrified. Most people when I say that it was shop after shop, they’re like, “Oh, yeah. Versace and then Maya and then…” No, no. This was like going down junk shop. It was like going down a strip of shops in Thailand. It was a really bad street. And I remember I was about to open up the first door. I didn’t have to knock. I wasn’t doing residential. But I was going to walk in, there with customers in the store and I was about to walk in and talk to someone. I went, “No one’s taught me how to sell. I’m going to have to figure this out.”
Well, it was 93 doors before my first sale. Now, if you can imagine Christmas time, everyone shopping, everyone at high stress. People are lovely. Around that time of year, I got told to get a real job, I got told every swear word under the sun. I got asked what I was doing with my life. I even had one person scream at me until I left. It was terrible. And then the 93rd door, I made my first sale. I remember I made about $70. I was ecstatic for about 45 seconds.
Nothing was better until I had that realization. I’ve got to do this again tomorrow and for the rest of the year. And I’m like, “This is not okay, I can’t do this.” My father broke his back 80 hours a week putting us through school and… I didn’t grow up in a rich family. I promised him I was going to look after myself and pay for myself that year and I’m not going back to him to explain, “Sorry. It’s a little bit tough. My first day was bad.”
It’s not like I can pick up a Brian Tracy or Zig Ziglar. But I mean, I had a reading speed of a sixth grader, it would have taken me a year to read the book, let alone do anything with it. So I went looking for another answer and I think this is one of the biggest things for a lot of people to start their own business or their own agency or whatever business they have. Things get tough and they start to reevaluate whether they want to do it. Or maybe they’re getting just enough clients to not be in pain but definitely not enough that they’re making great money and it just continues on like that until their husband or wife goes, “Are you serious? Go back and get a job.”
The thing is that things don’t… For me, my back was against the wall. I think when people have their back against the wall, they find a solution. Pat Flynn’s a great example of that. He’s a great podcaster, he did very, very well. But his back was against the wall as well. His wife was pregnant and he had to find a way to make it work. And for me, so did I. What I did is I went looking online for a solution. This was around the time that YouTube just started to get popular and surprising to me, there was a lot more to YouTube than just cat videos.
I learned the steps of the sale, I learned the elements of the sale, I learned everything it took to be a phenomenal salesperson on YouTube. Every day, I would go out and I would practice a new part of the sale, and every day the number of doors it would take me to make a sale would go down. Until about six weeks later, my sales manager came up to me and he told me that I was now on the report and I was listed as the number one salesperson in the largest sales and marketing company in the southern hemisphere.
Everybody was shocked because I was the guy that nobody would talk to. You got all the old sales dogs and the extroverts, they’d be talking about how the market was getting harder and how… I just kept to myself because I didn’t consider myself a salesperson. I was just treading water trying to make enough money to survive and I hadn’t even received my first paycheck yet. We got paid eight weeks in arrears and I just got told that I was the number one salesperson in the largest sales and marketing company in southern hemisphere. I’m just selling telecommunications.
From that point onwards, next thing I knew, I was promoted and then I was training people and I started training a huge number of introverts, people that did not want to sell but they wanted to provide a great income for their family. As I got promoted more and more, I ended up the state manager of South Australia, which is equivalent to a really tiny state. It’s got less than 20% of the population of Australia. Predominant, most of the population is in Melbourne and Sydney and I got promoted there and when I first started, the only two salespeople I had, I had one guy that had been diagnosed with cancer and he only worked a couple of days a week.
The other guy, pretty much I would say he was homeless, he just came in to use the bathroom in the morning. And then that was it. And within the space of four months, I built that to a sales company or sales state that was outselling the two primary states. That’s Detroit selling more than New York and Los Angeles together. We were just doing amazingly well. I got promoted to head off the state. Fast forward a little bit more, I opened up my first telecommunications company. We turned over a million dollars within the first 12 months. And by year three, we were the number one brokership for business to business cell phones in the country. We turned over about $4.2 million that year.
Fast forward a few more years and I’d been responsible for five multimillion dollar success stories. My last one was a nationally accredited education facility. If you’re thinking you can’t do sales, I was the guy that had no right being in sales. I went from terrified to sell to teaching hundreds how to do it. And now through my blogs and through my new book that’s coming out and all the podcasts interviews I do, I’d like to say I teach thousands.
Anyone can work in sales. The thing that they’ve got to get over is that it is a gift of the [inaudible 00:11:38] that they either have or that they don’t. It’s something that they don’t enjoy. I’m not sure… Drew, do you ski?
Do I ski? Yeah.
Do you remember the first time you put two planks of wood on your feet and you were going to go down. How comfortable did you feel?
I was terrified, of course. Yeah. I think if you learn over the age of three, you’re terrified. I think if you’re three or yet less, you don’t care, you just go. But, four and plus, yeah.
My first experience of snow, I was eight years old. My dad drove… We spent hours in the car driving to the snow. My father put snow down my back, I cried, we all went home.
Sounds like a fun family vacation.
It was a fun family vacation. I’ll put it this way. The first time I stood on skis, I was terrified, my stomach was in my throat. It was not fun. It was uncomfortable. I remember going down, I had no control. I had no idea how to stop. There was one time I plowed right into this one other person and I was in incredible pain and now you know what? I enjoy skiing?
Yeah, right. And it’s because I learned the skill set. I didn’t hold down and go, “You know what? I didn’t have the gift to the ski. I’m never going to be able to ski.” Everyone seems to look at every other skill set from accounting to skiing and say, “Okay, this is a process. I need to learn this process step by step and then I’ll be able to do it.”
But yet for some reason, when it comes to sales, we go, “That’s a natural ability. I either have it or I don’t.” It makes most sense to me. But you know what? I would have been saying the same thing if I didn’t get thrown on that street all those years ago.
For many agency owners, it’s interesting that you were talking about introversion. A lot of people who think that they are not good sales, people who don’t want to go to a networking event and engage with someone that they don’t know, who don’t want to reach out to somebody at a trade show, whatever that is.
For agency owners, many of them, their sales process is, “I’m going to wait for a referral.” Or, “I’m going to sort of stay in the circle of people that I know well and I’m hoping that I’m liked enough that someday they call me.” So for someone who is not a walk in the room and introduce themselves to everyone. so for somebody who’s doesn’t exude extraversion, how does an introvert or somebody who is less inclined to just chat chat, love your hat with everyone, how do they learn how to sell?
Sure. What we’re really talking about is how does someone like me because that’s me, I’ll go to a networking… I was at a networking event the other day. I was in Chapel Hill and I’m like… We’ve just moved to Chapel Hill, we moved from Austin to Chapel Hill and I’m like, “I’m going to have to start to meet some people.” 99% of my customers are from all over the world but I’d like to have some contacts here. I’m well connected in Austin. I moved into Austin not knowing anyone but my girlfriend, my now fiance and within three years, I was listed as one of the most connected people in Austin.
And then I went, “I’m moving to Chapel Hill.” So I’m starting again. You know what? The same thing happened. I went to a networking event and I’m like, “I don’t want to be here. And no one knows me.” They’re looking at this guy going, “Who’s that new guy?” And I could feel it.
The difference is that even… I’m going to put it in a way that people understand. If you see a bear and a bear is running at you, your brain says run away. That’s what that brain says.
One would hope so. Yes.
If doesn’t, I can’t help you.
That’s right. But if you’ve got to bear running at you, your brain says, “Run away.” If you see a bear, your brain says, “Run away.” The whole reason it does that is because our whole life or through generations and generations, our brain… We have three different types of our brand, but our survival mentality kicks in every time, our brain or our body feels that it’s in danger.
When we go to networking events, there are no bears, but our brain sees them all as bears. Our body is like, “Bears everywhere. This is a time to run.” So our psychology and our body chemistry is not working on our side. So we have to have strategies.
I’ve got a podcast that actually is launching in about two weeks. I’m not sure when these episode’s coming out, but it’s coming out from two weeks from today, but it’s called the Introvert’s Edge. And the whole focus is my books coming out in January, so it’s leading up to the book and I’ve interviewed everyone from the founder of BNI, which is the guy that’s got nearly 8,000 networking events across the world. He’s an introvert. He was joking to his wife about being an extrovert. His wife’s like, “No, no, no. You’re an introvert.” He’s like, “No, no, I’m an extrovert. I run the largest networking group in the world. I’m an extrovert.”
She’s like, “No.” So he did the test and he found out he’s an introvert. And then he realized that he created BNI because it provided a strategic way to meet people and create-
Yeah, like the structure of it.
Exactly. Now, it doesn’t matter who you talk to that’s introverted. I’ve interviewed everyone, as I said, from that, to the founder of Ugg Boots to Ryan Deiss to Jamie Masters, all of them will tell you how they handle a networking event. And a lot of them have different processes. They all have different steps that they follow. But there’s one similarity, they have a system that they have worked out. It’s a step by step process and they always follow it.
How did they figure out what it was? So if someone’s listening and going, “Great, I need a system like that.” How do you figure it out?
Definitely. So there are things you can do. And I will talk about this in a second, the things you can do to make it easier. For me, having a unified message is one of the easiest things in the world. Because if you go in and say, “Oh, I’m in digital marketing or I’m in advertising,” good luck. They’re going to hear this word, “Insurance salesperson,” and they’re going to run for the hills.
Right. They think you’re the bear.
We’ve all been to those conversations. “So what is it that you do?” “I’m in advertising.” “I’ve had advertising before. It didn’t work.” And now, I pause and they then say, “What do you do?” And then we all excuse ourselves to go to the bathroom. So having a strong message that separates you from everyone else makes a massive difference. But if you’re going to focus on how to network, I mean, Ryan Deiss, will say, every time he goes to an event, if he thinks about three people, he’s going to meet three people and he’s not going to leave before then, but as long as he’s met three people, he gives himself permission to leave.
Now, if he gives himself permission to leave, that doesn’t mean he leaves, because what he finds is by the third conversation with somebody new and the key here is new, if you’re in digital marketing, don’t go to the digital marketing networking group, they already know how to do that. Go somewhere-
[crosstalk 00:18:20] They already know you.
Exactly. Go somewhere where your ideal customers are, not somewhere where your friends are. Don’t go with a friend, go by yourself and talk to three specific people. At the end of that, you’ll find that momentum has increased. Now Jamie Masters was told to attach herself to an extroverted person and go around and ask them to introduce. The founder of BNI, Ivan Misner, does very similar. They get introductions and after a couple of introductions, they’re kind of meeting people.
But they don’t bring someone with them to do the introductions, they meet someone there that seems extrovert and says, “Oh, I’m new here. Would you mind introducing me around?” Because that extrovert will take it on themselves, “I get to introduce this person,” and he’ll be excited to do so.
Me, what I do is I have a conversation with one person. What I find is body chemistry is everything. So Drew, I’m having a conversation with you and what I’ll do is I’ll start to lower my voice slightly and I’ll start to give you value. What I’ll start doing while I’m doing it is I’ll nod my head. You’ll start to nod your head and you’ll start to engage and people will start to see that this is a really good conversation.
So what then happens is you’re getting value, you’ll then draw someone in, maybe it’s your business partner, maybe it’s your friend you came with to listen to the conversation as well. Now, if you’ve got two people talking to you, it’s very hard to get another person in. But if you then turn it into a triangle, which is Ivan Misner talks about, it’s very easy to get a fourth person in, it becomes a bigger group.
So what I do is I focused on having one detailed conversation where I don’t even tell them what I do, I just give them value until they say, “What is it that you do?” And then I tell them, but again, I don’t say, “Hey, I’m a business coach,” because again, the insurance salesperson byline comes up and people run away, I’m back to being the bear. I tell them my unified message.
What I think is probably the best way to explain it step by step is let’s cover off on I’m going to give… Let me give you an example of how unified message works and then let’s talk about some actual tangible strategies that will actually help you in the networking rooms. Does that work for you Drew?
It does. But let’s pause, take a quick break and we’ll come back and we’ll start with unified message when we come back.
If you’ve been listening to the podcast for a while, odds are you’ve heard me mentioned the AMI Peer Networks or the Agency Owner Network. What that is, really is that’s like a Vistage group or an EO Group, only everybody around the table owns an agency in a non-competitive market.
It’s a membership model. They come together twice a year for two days, two days in the spring and two days in the fall and they work together to share best practices, they show each other their full financials. So there’s a lot of accountability. We bring speakers in and we spent a lot of time problem solving around the issues that agency owners are facing.
If you’d like to learn more about it, go to agencymanagementinstitute.com/network. Okay, let’s get back to the show.
All right, we are back, we are talking about sales and being comfortable in your own skin. So not trying to be something that you’re not. And right before the break, we were teasing up that we were going to talk about how to use a unified message to start to connect with people and to move them down the sales cycle. Let’s go back to that and pick up where we left off.
Perfect. So as we were saying, I was kind of hinting that when you get to… If you focus on sales first, you’ve kind of already last because walking in and you’ve just told everyone, you’re the bear or the insurance salesperson. So we need to get rid of that first. The first thing I always tell people is… I had a client of mine, Wendy, who came to me and she said to me, “Matt, how do I compete in this incredibly crowded market?” She was a language coach. She was teaching Mandarin to kids and adults in California and she had all these people that were moving into California that were opening up their own Mandarin education businesses and they were charging less.
We know what it’s like when you start a new business, everyone’s willing to cut their prices to the bone to get their first client, their first referrals and as a byproduct of that, she was struggling to charge $50-80 an hour because these people were willing to charge $30-40 an hour. Now, a lot of the agencies will probably know about this as well, that now also, we now live in a global economy. So she had to deal with people in China that were offering deals on Craigslist for $10-12 an hour.
Again, she’s 50-80. And then all these online platforms, “Hey, I’ll teach you Mandarin. You teach me English. We’ll do it for free. We’ll just exchange hours.” So again, she was finding it really difficult to get clients. She said, “Matt, how do I compete in this incredibly crowded market?” And I said, “Wendy, the first thing we need to do is we need to focus on avoiding the battle altogether.” What we did was, I went right through and looked at all the customers that she was working with. And she worked with hundreds of people.
What I noticed was that there were two people specifically where she helped with more than just language tuition. She helped them… These were executives being relocated across to China. And the first thing she helped with was this concept of Galaxy. Now, for people that hear the word Galaxy, we live in the United States, we’re thinking, “Outer space.” Well no. It’s their version of rapport. So Drew, if I was going to sit down and have a conversation with you, when I was trying to sell you something, we’d get to the end of that meeting and if I was a really bad salesperson, I would say something like, “So do you want to move forward?”
And you would say, “Yes, no.” Or everybody’s favorite, “Let me think about it.” Now, agencies are so used to that word, because they’re like, “Quantify the metrics.” “Well, let me think about it. We’ll get back to you.” When you get told you want to think about it, I might call you back in a week’s time and I’ll say to you, “Do want to move forward?” And you’ll say, “Yes/no.” Or if you tell you want to think about it, we know the chances of getting that sale are getting less and less.
Right, right, right.
Well, in China, they want to meet with me five or six times before they even discuss business. They’re probably going to want to see me drunk over karaoke once or twice. Now, here’s why. They’re not talking about transactional 12 month, 24 month deals like we do in the Western world. We’re talking 50-100 year deals. A lot of times this is longer than a lot of people’s lifetimes or marriages. So they want to know the kind of person they’re getting into bed with. So a lot of executives really struggle with this. They get three meetings, there’s a really…
There’s a big story about this big IT company that the salesperson got angry with the company that was doing the due diligence for doing this big IT purchase because there were at meeting three and they still hadn’t even discussed the fact that they were going to buy laptops. He’s like, “Can we get to the business?” They heard him out, they escorted him out and he was never able to contact them again.
Because he had violated their culture.
He violated their culture. Executives that don’t know that, wow, they’re not doing business in China. So Wendy helped them understand that. The next thing she helped them understand what’s the difference between eCommerce in China and the Western world and the third thing, maybe the most important was the importance of respect. While they don’t expect you to sound exactly like them, they do expect you to reduce your accent. Learning the language isn’t enough.
It’s the same as if I was to hand you a business card in the Western world, you put it in your pocket, maybe you’d scribble a note on it, but you’d put in your pocket and you’d barely even talk to make. Sorry, you’d continue talking to me, you barely even look at it. Well, in China supposed, you’re supposed to hold it, you’re supposed to cherish it, you look at all the details, you didn’t flip it over, you look at all the details on the back before pulling out a card case, try that again, card case, bowing slightly and then continuing the conversation.
I was in Bangkok for Electrolux. I was speaking in front of 150 vice presidents in January. I spoke about this and then I got down and somebody handed me their card and I almost just throw it in my pocket. It’s so hard-
It’s such a habit.
It is. It is such a habit. Wendy helped them understand these three important concepts. And I said, “Wendy, you’re doing so much more for these two people than just language tuition. What are you doing?” She’s like, “Well, I’m just trying to help.” I went, “Wendy, you’re stuck in your functional skill.” Now, there isn’t a person that’s watching today that doesn’t have something that they do outside the scope of their functional skill. If you don’t believe me, every single thing, every customer that you have that sings your praises, they can get what you do everywhere else, the functional element and probably pay less.
But they work with you because they’re getting something else and they sing your praises. That means you’re doing something different. Wendy was too. I said, “Wendy, you’re stuck in your functional skill. Is it fair to assume as a result of the advice you’re giving just these two people, they’re going to be more successful in China?” And she said, “Well, yeah. That’s why I’m giving them that extra piece of advice. Yeah. So that’s what I’m hoping for.”
I said, “Right. Why don’t we call you the China’s Success Coach? Why don’t we call your business, the China Success Institute? And why don’t we create a China Success Intensive, where you work with the executive, the spouse and any children being…” Done. Now, why the spouse and the children? Well, we’re in business, we can charge more, right? But secondly, you think about it-
The whole family has to integrate, right?
Well, yeah. Exactly right. I know even if I took my fiance to China and said, “You sit at home, I’m going to go for a 12 hour day and I’ll see when I get back and I’m going to do that six days a week,” she’s not going to be happy. Eventually she’s going to say, “Can we move back home?” Or she’s going to start to get really upset and I’m going to have to come home more often and… My chances of being successful are less than less.
So the importance is the whole family unit. She said, “Well, this is great.” So what would we do? So we crafted this five week intensive program and what we did is we taught these skills. We didn’t even bother with Mandarin. That was a competitive market and she recommended that out. But what we did was we focused on these skills. And she said, “Well, who do I sell it to?” And I said, “Well, think about it. Who would you sell it to?” So she will call the executive and I said yeah, that makes sense.
The executive is terrified about moving to China. I moved from Australia to the United States and I was terrified and you guys speak the same language, kind of. But you guys speak the same language and I was still terrified. I didn’t know a soul. And the culture is while mostly the same, slightly different and that’s enough to create anxiety. These guys live in place where you got to even do different things with business cards.
This was huge for them. I said, “But that’s not your client.” She said, “Clearly, the corporation would pay.” I said, “Yeah, the corporations have got millions, if not billions of dollars riding on this executive being successful. But still not your customer.” She said, “Well, then who?” And I said, “Well, it’s the immigration attorney.” She’s like, “What?” “That’s [inaudible 00:28:35] think about it.” When I had to come from Australia to the US, I had to go through an immigration attorney, to get my visa and to get my green card. You have to do the same when you go to China.
So she then went and started reaching out to immigration attorneys and said, “How would you like to make $3,000 for any successful introduction to anyone being relocated to China?” These guys were making three to $7,000 in revenue and they had to do all the bureaucracy, all the paperwork, find a client to get someone over there. They weren’t making $3,000 profit. Said, “This is brilliant. What would I have to say is more than double our profit.”
She said, “All you’ve got to do is say, ‘Congratulations, you’ve now got your visa. I just want to double check, you’re as ready as possible to be relocated across to China.’” And they were to say, “Yeah, we’ve got our visa. Now I’ve learned the language, the kids are getting pretty good at it. We’ve got our place organized, I think we’re sorted.” And they would simply respond, “There’s a lot more to it than that. I think you need to speak to the China’s Success Coach.”
Wendy would then get on the phone to the easiest sale in the world, because these guys were terrified, the Corporation was happy to write a check to ensure their success. They had millions, if not billions of dollars riding on it and they’d been recommended by their attorney. It was the easiest sell in the world and Wendy went from struggling every day to charge $50-80 an hour for private language coaching to charging $30,000, making 27 for a five week program after commission with the easiest sale in the world. To answer your question, yes, you can focus a lot the tactical elements and we’ll get into that now of how to-
No, I don’t want to get into it now. I want to stay on the unified message for a minute.
Many agencies are facing basically the exact scenario you just described, which is, the stuff they make has been commoditized. Somebody else can… You can go on logosrus.com or somewhere else and get a bunch of logos for $400 and you can argue that most of them are not as good as an agency’s logos, but one of them might be. But the point is, the work is being commoditized.
And so agencies have to understand the bigger picture of what do we really offer beyond our functional skill, to use your phrase, that makes us valuable. So my question to you is, how does someone discover what their unified message is? How do they step back and see for themselves that they don’t sell logos or print ads, or SEO or PPC, but they sell something bigger like Wendy did? How do they figure that out?
Well, first thing, let’s look back at Wendy for a second. We said one of the things she did outside the scope of the functional skill of Mandarin. She taught galaxy, she taught eCommerce and she taught respect. The high level benefit of that was China’s success. For me, I teach… I’m a business coach. I’m a branding expert. I’m a master at NLP, I’m a sales strategist and so many things and nobody cares. Let’s be honest, I spent a long time learning this stuff, it’s really difficult but nobody cares.
But when I say, “I’m the Rapid Growth Guy. I help organizations large and small, obtain rapid growth.” The simplicity of that message gets me heard in a crowded marketplace. Everybody has to learn how to do this themselves. But here’s the thing, it’s the thing that they’re most proud of the fact that they know that they’re not going to be messaging. It’s the things, the higher level benefits that are the key differences.
Now, the good news is that I have a five step worksheet that I give away for free that teaches people how to do this. And the reason being is, I did this worksheet in front of over 190 people at the National Freelance Conference in Austin, about a year ago and at the end of this 45 minutes, I said, “Now, put your hands up if now, that we’re at the end of this, you have a message you feel so much more excited about sharing with your ideal customers.” About 95% of the room put their hands up.
Here’s the sad part, this is why I said 45 minutes. I said, “Keep your hands up if this is longer than you spent on your marketing since you started your business.” About 87% of the room kept their hands up. So here’s the trick. For this worksheet to work, you actually have to do the work. If you go to Matthewpollard.com/growth, you’ll be able to download this five step worksheet and it will take you through how to identify exactly what your niche is and how to craft your unified message. And it will ask you the questions and take you through this path.
Now, a lot of people have got to the stage because what I find is modern day marketing has got it wrong. And for the people that are marketers that are watching this, this is going to upset you, but I’m going to say it anyway. Modern Day Marketing has kind of got it wrong. When you’re marketing a product, fair enough. But when you’re marketing a service, modern day marketing says find a gap in the marketplace like an unmet need, then create a message for that market and then create a sales system for that marketplace. That’s modern day marketing.
Here’s the problem. That means you’re bending yourself to the marketplace, you feel incongruent, you feel inauthentic because it’s not who you are, you’re trying to break functional skill, you trying to put a round peg into a square hole and that’s why it feels so hard. Instead, you have to know what you’re passionate about and why you got into doing what you do.
You need to tap back into what you’re excited about, why are you doing what you do? I find the best way to do this is to work out… Firstly, I always get people to write down three business goals, three personal goals, one incredibly selfish to themselves because that’ll motivate them and get them the SMART criteria, not because it works any better than a lot of the other criteria out there, but because most people know what it is and then I get them to summarize, the most important elements are specific and time-based, which makes it measurable and then write it.
I always get them to follow… Sorry. I start to get them to write them down. And I find high achievers can write these really quickly. And then I get them to summarize these goals in 250 words or less, including, here’s the kicker, why it’s important to you. And as soon as I say, “Why it’s important to you,” these high achievers go, “This isn’t important to me. What have I spent the last 15 years focusing on?” What I find is a lot of people when they get to step three of the creating the unified message, they struggle and the reason for that is they haven’t really tapped into their passions and their why’s and until… You can tell everything…
I was quite tired. I just came back from a big weekend in Houston. I was quite exhausted when I first started this interview. I’m now talking about what I’m passionate about. It’s like I tap into my superpower and it’s like this avalanche of energy. A lot of people to be successful in networking business, successful in sales, in public speaking and whatever they want to do, it’s considered an extroverted ability. Don’t get me started on that. It’s not. That’s just a system, but what’s considered extroverted, they need to know why they care, why they’re in what they’re doing.
There’s a podcast that I have. I’ve got another podcast, that’s called Better Business Coach podcast. If you go to Episode 17 is a podcast called Forget About Goals, Why is the Key to Success. If you either download the worksheet at Matthewpollard.com/growth, start that. If you struggle at step three, go and listen to that podcast episode and do the exercise there or do that exercise first and then do that worksheet. Your chances of success and coming up with that unified message are going to be heightened astronomically. The main thing is block out two hours to do this [inaudible 00:35:46] and at the end of that two hours, you’ll see your business very differently.
Love it. Okay, guys. There’s your challenge right there. We’re not done yet but I want to make sure you stop and you know to go to that URL, which we will put in the show notes. Go listen to that podcast which we will also put in the show notes to be able to drive because many of you tell me, “I get that I should niche. I just have no idea how or where.”
And so Matthew just told you have to figure that out. So make sure you note that and you go do it. Nod your head and say, “Yep, I’m going to do that one of these days.” But you actually go do it.
So I nod my head and do it every six months. Every six months, I do it myself and I have a recurring reminder in my calendar to re-look at the niches and the message that I have. And the reason for that is people start to copy. And copying, my first business people started to copy me, I got so angry, because I’m like, “They’re stealing my idea.” That’s the brightest form of compliments. The fact is that the reason why they’re copying you is you’re doing it better than they are.
But if you want to stay ahead of the curve, you deserve to lose, because business is all about staying at the front of the curve. What I always suggest is block out two hours in your calendar and don’t say, “I’ll do it sometime.” Just get out of your calendar, block out the time and don’t reschedule it, actually do it. I don’t care whether or not the best customer in the world calls you, move it to another place in the same week. But don’t push it. Just do that [inaudible 00:37:12] because what I find is a lot of people spend so long… Well, let’s say they avoid sales, but they spend so long selling because they’re doing long proposals, they’re going to all these networking events they don’t want to be at, they’re spending money and time trying to get customers and they haven’t done that little bit and takes two hours.
I had one customer in Austin who used to spend three to four hours on a proposal for every single customer. By the time I finished working with him, we got his unified message and his niche sorted, his packaging and pricing problem, a few sales techniques. Now, if he doesn’t close the sale in the room, he’ll send them like a dot point email that’s less than 300 words and his close rate is higher than it ever has been. Here’s why. He wasn’t a commodity. Now, let’s face it. Everybody out there, you are a commodity if you define yourself by your functional skill.
Yeah, that’s an important message. Yeah, absolutely. Let’s talk a little bit about the niching. How does the niching fit with having a unified message? I get that the unified message is about something that differentiates you, that gets some subset of human beings excited about what you do and that it aligns with who you are. Those are the core sort of pieces of that. How does that then… How do you roll that into that niche?
Well, so here’s the thing. A lot of people do it the other way around as I said. They’re like, “I’ve got to find the unmet need in the market, then I’ll create the message.” What I say is, when you’ve created a message that you’re so excited about, that you’re willing to tell everybody in the world, then now all of a sudden, some markets don’t look as good as others.
Because if you’re looking at a market and say, “How do I adapt the message for them?” You’re like, “This message will work for them.” But the message you come up with you’re excited about talking with may not naturally resonate. Now, here’s the important thing to know. When you do this, a lot of times you’ll look at one market you’re like, “But I can make more money out of that market. So with this message, it won’t work with that.”
Here’s what it is. In the past, you focused on that marketplace, so it feels more comfortable. Now neuro linguistic programming teaches that we’re presented with 2 million bits of information every single second throughout touch, all our senses. What our brain does is it deletes, distorts and generalizes everything we see feel, hear and touch based on our beliefs, our values, our past experiences and a subset of that is our goals. If we don’t have laser focus, but if we have cross focus or conflicting focus, we miss opportunities that are right there in front of us, [crosstalk 00:39:39].
While I’d like to think I’m an amazing coach half the time it’s like, so this is your laser focus, let’s make sure we get rid of all the other crap. They’re like, “There’s an opportunity in that market I never thought I was going to be able to make money out off.” So the most important element is committee. A lot of people will say, oh, but they’ll start to gravitate back to that market. They’re like, “But I want to be in this market and now my passion’s over here.”
I think Jim Carrey said it best. He’s like, “My father could have been…” I’m assuming Jim Carrey, the famous comedian.
So he’s like, “My father was a funny guy, he could have been an amazing comedian. But instead, he made the decision to take the safe choice and become an accountant instead. Many years later, he lost his job, he got laid off and his family had to do what they could to survive.” He said he learned a great deal from his father, but nothing more important than you can fail at what you don’t want. Why not take a chance at what you love?
My feeling about this is that as soon as you make the decision that this is what I’m passionate about, this is what my message is going to be and you focus on the market of customers you’ve already worked with. This worksheet will help you navigate through this process. We’ll find a group of customers within the group that you’ve already worked with that are singing your praises, that are paying you top dollar, that actually will resonate with your message and you can validate it with them first.
Now, with Wendy, it was only two people. But she then validated that by going out and speaking to other people and making sure it works. But what you should do is focus your attention on making sure that you get to speak the exact message that excites you because you, with a bland message in this hi