Authority: Be the One Who Wrote the Book In Your Niche with Steve Gordon #048
Steve is the founder of The Unstoppable CEO, and the host of The Unstoppable CEO Podcast and has written over 400 articles on marketing for service businesses.
He’s a bestselling author of 4 books; Podcast Prospecting, Unstoppable Referrals, Exponential Network Strategy and the Follow Up Formula.
Through his firm, Steve helps service business entrepreneurs create leveraged marketing systems so they can spend less time on business development, and more time on what matters most.
You may remember him from a recent Expert Panel: Becoming Limitless that I hosted.
- Fundamental challenge for people operating a service based business
- Product based businesses are usually specialized within the business, into separate teams
- The feast and famine cycle
- ‘We help the business owner realize the business that they really want to have’
- All those marketing methods do work, but they don’t work for everybody
- We help them create leverage, with a very small time footprint, create consistent business development
- Book number one took about 35 days start to finish
- Marry your expertise to a solid and simple process
- We have the book blueprint, where we breakdown to the key points in the chapter, and each key question to ask each key point, so there’s never a blank page
- This is how you can get books done in record time
- It’s often as simple as 30 minutes per day, Monday to Friday, for 19 days to have the book written
- You’re a walking talking package of your ideas, but I’ve to sit with you to sell me your ideas
- A book is a more efficient packaging to sell your ideas than you
- “I’ve a bunch of books printed up, I’d love to gift to people in your network you think would appreciate them”
- It’s a very different proposition, a very different ask
- “If you’re gifted a book you’re not even interested in, I’m still grateful they thought of me. It has very high perceived value”
- All of those authors on your bookshelf, literally own real estate in your world
- Often clients say, ‘a friend gave me your book, I didn’t read it, but I really need what it says on the cover, can you help me?’
- Authority: You’re literally the one who wrote the book on the subject
- It’s about getting yourself in a place where people can discover you
- This is not about selling 50,000 copies and being on the New York Times bestseller list.
- Typically you spend $100k-$200k to be get on a bestseller list
- 99% of business owners with expertise need a lead generating book which multiplies their ability to get their message out
- What you do when you run out of relationships and networking events don’t tend to have the people you need to talk to as they’ve sent representatives if at all
- It was shockingly easy to get a business owner that I couldn’t call on the phone, to accept an email request to be on my podcast
- A podcast is great for creating relationships, for leading the collaboration
- Why selling your expertise is fundamentally different in selling anything else
- If you follow much of the sales training advice you’ll just erode trust
- Why snake oil salesman are why doctors are so trusted
- The client must fully trust the prescription that you give them
- Even if you don’t have legal fiduciary responsibility, it’s how we should be approaching our clients
- For one hour a week you can have all your marketing and relationship building done
- “Anytime there’s a problem, even if it’s not yours, you lean into the problem. It’s never a question of fault, it’s how do we fix it?”
- Steve’s most instructive failures and setbacks
Al McBride 0:36
welcome to the dealing with Goliath podcast. The mission of dealing with Goliath is to sharpen the psychological edge of negotiation and high impact conversations. For Business leaders with skin in the game, who want to be more effective under pressure, uncover hidden value and increase profitability. With expert guests across the business spectrum.
Al McBride 0:55
We deliver gems of wisdom, delving into their methods, their thinking and approach to business life and problem solving. This is the ground a cup of insight, long form podcast interview, where we take the time to delve a little bit deeper into our guests experiences stories, and to get those priceless nuggets.
Al McBride 1:13
I’m your host Al McBride and my guest today is Steve Gordon. Steve is the founder of the unstoppable CEO, and the host of the unstoppable CEO podcast, and has written over 400 articles on marketing for service businesses. He’s a best selling author of four books, including podcast prospecting, unstoppable referrals, exponential network strategy, and the follow up formula. Through his firm Steve helps service business entrepreneurs create leverage marketing systems, so they can spend less time on business development, and more time on what matters most. So welcome, Steve. Great to have you on the show.
Steve Gordon 1:57
Oh, thanks for having me. This is gonna be fun.
Al McBride 2:00
Thanks. I very much enjoyed our expert panel chat there a few months back. So very glad to have you on the show after, after a few postponements. We made it happen. So I appreciate that a lot. So great to have you on.
Steve Gordon 2:15
Yeah, I’m excited.
Al McBride 2:16
So tell us a little bit about that, that you help entrepreneurs create leverage marketing systems. That sounds very exciting. So I mean, I have an idea of what you do, but explain to some of our listeners, how you go about doing that?
Steve Gordon 2:30
Well, so if you think about the fundamental challenge for most people who are operating in a service based business, you are your existing as the business owner, the CEO, probably the head accountant, you’re probably the one delivering the service, you may be the one cleaning the bathroom. And you’re certainly the one that’s going out and trying to develop new business as well.
Steve Gordon 2:59
And so you’re pulled in a lot of different directions. And, and most people who got into that kind of business got into it, because they really enjoyed doing whatever it is that the business does, you know, whether it’s consulting, or accounting or law, or whatever they got in for that aspect of it. But now they find out okay, well, I’ve got to go market and sell this thing so that I can do the thing that I got trained to do. And, and so that’s a little bit unique.
Steve Gordon 3:27
If you look at product businesses, people generally are specialized within the business, you’ve got the marketing team, you’ve got the sales team, you’ve got the product that’s actually delivering the value. In a service business, you’ve got to create some leverage somewhere. And usually the limiting factor in these businesses is that they’re not getting enough opportunity in the door. They’re not seeing enough new potential clients and having enough of those conversations, to really be able to keep consistent growth.
Steve Gordon 4:00
And so you see these businesses go through sort of this feast and famine cycle. And, and the way that you get around that as you build a leveraged system to handle your business development so that it can be working, even when you’re really busy doing all of these other things that you’re you’re supposed to be doing in the firm. So that’s really that’s what we do, and why we do it is to free up that that service business owner and to help them realize the business that they really want to have
Al McBride 4:30
outstanding suddenly, because I mean, I know a lot of consultants, myself, as a lot of us do. And it is consistently the problem, you know, people are either frustrated that they’re working on getting work, or they have the better problem that they’re flat out doing the work, but then they’re often neglecting the pipeline. So when a series of contracts, you know, you go through that the verbal batch where everything’s rosy, it’s doing well and people have it’s natural.
Al McBride 4:59
You wanting to deliver a great service to your clients but you’re not filling that pipeline so that you know when it all stops then suddenly you’re twiddling your thumbs and getting very nervous for a little while so how do you help them that going a little bit more into the detail if that’s okay how do you what is your method for filling that pipeline because you know people do networking but they often don’t do it maybe as optimally as they could do and that’s putting it in a very kind way so so so yeah tell us some of your thoughts on that
Steve Gordon 5:33
well we have i think it’s safe to say we haven’t tried every marketing method but we’ve tried an awful lot we’ve tried and failed at more than than i’d like to admit and the you can watch all of these you know gurus who are out there telling you that you need to do this or you need to do that and those things all do work but they don’t work for everybody and they tend to work for that person who has dedicated themselves to mastering that particular strategy
Al McBride 6:08
Steve Gordon 6:08
what we find in working with professionals is that you’ve got this constraint of time i mean everybody has the constraint of time but i think it’s it’s unique in professional services that because you’re torn in all these different directions you’ve got it have a marketing method that that still works and you can still execute even when you’re overloaded with client work.
Steve Gordon 6:29
So that things don’t stop so we’ve kind of taken the approach that anything we do has to be something that not only will work in theory but will also work in reality for this you know business owner this professional who already has got a full plate they’re working with clients so it’s got to have a very small time footprint that’s why we’ve come to really two methods together to to help them create leverage and help them do consistent business development and the first of those is to have that professional write a book and
Al McBride 7:08
i you know just to jump in there steve you know i’m sure an awful lot of consultants enemies and consultants are wider so professional service providers coaches consultants you name it i would think yeah i’d love to have a book and then i think i don’t have two years to write a book so i know you have a very interesting unique approach to that i don’t know if you want to dive into the full details but how do you because how do you deal with that first objection
Steve Gordon 7:36
well if you’re thinking that your book should take two years to write you’re doing it wrong
Al McBride 7:41
Steve Gordon 7:43
you know so i’ve mentioned in the intro i’ve written four books and technically i’m the author of the fifth book but i didn’t actually even write a word of that we can talk about how that got done in a few minutes but there’s lots of ways to get books done right now and why wrote and finally published book number one it took about 30 days 35 days start to finish to write the book now the story that you don’t see is the one that happened before that where i attempted for two years to write two other books that both ended up in the trash can.
Steve Gordon 8:25
So what i discovered when i finally got the first one published was that writing a book is really to do that successfully it’s more about the process that you follow that about you know having the you know the amazing insight of the perfect idea. Yeah those are helpful you know you probably already have those in the work that you’re doing you’re an expert at what you do and if you marry that expertise with a really solid and simple process for actually getting the writing done and getting your thinking clear you know that’s where most people get stuck with writing a book is they have the the genesis of the idea of i want to write a book and here’s the topic and here are the things i believe about that.
Steve Gordon 9:06
But they they don’t really have clear thinking when it comes down to the detail level and so that’s one of the first things that we do with people is we get them really clear and we do that in what we call the book blueprint where we really you know break down every part of that book you know to the chapter and then the key points in the chapter and then even the key questions to ask about each key point that lead up to the writing so that when they open up that laptop to you know do their writing session for that day there’s there’s no blank page they’ve got prompts it’s it’s very very easy and that’s how you get a book done in record time
Al McBride 9:44
when you say record home what what is what is could be usually expected when you use your method
Steve Gordon 9:50
so we’ve got we’ve got three ways that we deliver the service one is that we’ll write the book for you and when we do that it starts To finish published in 60 days. The second is sort of a hybrid approach where we’re going to help you structure the book using our, our book blueprint method. And, and then we’re going to teach you what we call the rapid writing system. And in that we actually went through this process yesterday with a client mapped out the entire book.
Steve Gordon 10:10
And then we give the client a writing plan, we say, Okay, well, how much time can you commit on a daily basis, or maybe it’s three days a week that you’re going to write. So in this case, the client was going to write 30, day, 30 minutes a day, five days a week, Monday through Friday, which is not a big commitment of time. And so we took that book blueprint and laid out every day, here’s what you need to write, for your 30 minutes. This is a very, you know, easy, doable, you know, amount of writing in that, in that time, and it’s laid out so that in about 19 days, he’ll have the book written.
Al McBride 10:59
Wow, 19 9091 919.
Al McBride 11:05
That is very impressive. That is very relevant. So once your clients and have a book, which is pretty impressive, what’d you do? Last month? Well, I wrote a book, it’s quite interesting as a star there, what do they then do with it? How does it not just, you know, disappear into the ether or sit on their website? How do they How do they use of?
Steve Gordon 11:31
Well, we look at at a book as a great tool to do the selling for you, you know, what most people do, when they, when they try and sell is they have these great ideas, and then they go out and they try and sell their ideas. And, you know, they package their ideas in the most inefficient form of packaging, you can you can come up with and that’s a human being. So they literally are the walking talking package of their ideas. If I want to sell you on on writing a book, if I haven’t written a book about it, I’ve got to come and sit with you and explain to you how amazing this whole thing is.
Steve Gordon 12:10
Right? I can only do that one person at a time, right? So now that we’ve got the book, and I’ve got those ideas packaged, and they can go sell for me, now I need to get it in the hands of the potential clients that need it. And there, you know, there are a lot of different ways you can do that. But for most professionals, the low hanging fruit is the network that they already have.
Steve Gordon 12:34
There are people in that network that already liked them and believe in them, and need an easy way to share their brilliance with everyone that they know. And so we’ve got this concept we call the value conversation where you can go to somebody that you, you know, you’ve got a relationship with, and maybe they’ve got a network of really great potential clients for you.
Steve Gordon 12:55
Right, and I might come and say, you know, how I just wrote this book on how you can, you know, write a book as a consultant in the next 60 days and have it published. And I know that you’ve got all these consultants that are in your network that would probably really benefit from this. And I want to make you look like a total hero to them. So what I’d like to do, as I’ve got a bunch of copies of the book printed up, I would love to give them as a gift to everybody in your network that you think would appreciate it. We’ll make it come to them as a gift from you. What do you say?
Al McBride 13:27
Steve Gordon 13:29
So you’ve now unlocked all of these relationships, if I come to you the old way of doing referrals. And I just show up and say, hey, how do you know anybody that wants to write a book this week? Could you maybe introduce them to me? I’d like to sell them this book service that we have. Right? What would you say?
Al McBride 13:47
Well tell the think about it. Yeah. Yeah,
Steve Gordon 13:49
Al McBride 13:49
Even if you’re trying to be helpful, maybe the thing doesn’t spring to mind, or you’re thinking, well, it feels uneven or imbalanced in the referral area seems like a big ask for. Whereas as you said, I have a book, can you hand that to some people you think might be interested? It’s a different proposition. It’s like I have something that you can give that that could be perceived value,
Steve Gordon 14:15
absolutely will be perceived value mean, even when somebody gives you a book that you look at it, and I’ve had this happen to me, people give me books that aren’t topics that I’m not very interested in. But I’m always grateful that they thought of me. Right ever offended by and I haven’t yet been offended. I asked that at one point. In a workshop we were doing in my clients that Well, yeah, if somebody you know, gave me a book that said how to lose, you know, 50 pounds when you’re over 50. I might be offended by that. But other than that, there’s probably no book that would offend me.
Al McBride 14:48
Right, right. Maybe the subject matter? A little bit, but it is one of these things of high perceived value, isn’t it that I read somewhere study a few years ago that you know, because it was To give in, in your marketing and a PDF was, you know, a certain level of cred. And then a video or a series of videos was the next level.
Al McBride 15:09
And then an actual book was was what was pretty much the highest, I think, wasn’t it? And by quite a margin, if I remember correctly, so. And it’s very strange, because I’ve been gifted books, and I find it so hard because I feel guilty if I, if I don’t read it, you know, often a person calls but I think an awful lot of people don’t really have that guilt.
Al McBride 15:31
They just think, oh, that’s kind of cool. They have it feels physical, as you said, is it seen as a valuable thing, even if they don’t read it, they might skim through it. And it’s kind of marginally interesting. But also people won’t throw it out. sits on the shelf and you know, or sits on the coffee table? And it’s right there. And view is not a big part of of the process as well.
Steve Gordon 15:56
Well, yeah, very much. So. So I’m, you know, looking at what’s behind you on the video, and you’ve got your bookshelf there? I certainly do. So, I see Tim Ferriss owns some real estate on your bookshelf, I see. You know, the Blue Ocean Strategy book back there.
Al McBride 16:14
Some really good actually, because I have a load of 11 load of books here and here. So you reach to the I don’t reach behind me as much as I should.
Steve Gordon 16:23
That’s alright. It’s a good background. It’s
Al McBride 16:25
Steve Gordon 16:28
Well, all of all of those authors, literally own real estate in your world. Hmm.
Al McBride 16:35
Steve Gordon 16:37
And so we charge them for your show. Yeah, right. So I, you know, I like that idea of, hey, I’ve got a patch of shelf space, or a corner of the desk in the office of my very best prospects. We got a client several years ago, who, who came to us, after somebody had given him a copy of my first book, given it to him as gift, nobody I knew he’s actually in the UK. And somebody that I didn’t know bought the book for him as a gift. gave it to him, he never read it.
Steve Gordon 17:13
He kept he put it on his nightstand. And he would look at it every night, I guess. And every morning when he woke up, and after a couple of years, he finally booked an appointment with us. And the first thing he said on the call is I’m a little bit embarrassed, I have your book, friend of mine gave it to me. I never read it. I’m not going to read it. I realize I’m never going to read it. But I really need what it says on the cover. And you’re the guy that can give me that. So how can you help? I’m talking about credibility builder. Yeah.
Al McBride 17:44
But before this interview, I was talking to a mutual friend of ours, who has also written a number of books. And he said something similar that, you know, he has different pricing points, but the done for you sort of 50 Grand 80 grand gig says there’s a disproportionate number of those, call them up or get in touch by email. And then they get a call and say, Hey, I was handed your book. And some of them read it. Some of them haven’t. But he said, You’re the guy I needed to talk to. And they’re ready, they’re ready to go. You know, they’re like, this is the thing. Is that typical? Is that now and again, is that kind of a regular flow? I’m kind of curious, I have to ask?
Steve Gordon 18:32
Well, it actually is, in fact, I was having a conversation in a mastermind group with Dan Kennedy. I don’t know if you know who Dan is, but you know, very successful and famous marketer. And this was right after I published my first book, and I said, you know, what, what’s the deal? Why do you release so many books? Because he’s, at the time he was doing like,
Al McBride 18:57
three new books, Dan Kennedy, the the Dan Kennedy. This time they’re there. Okay.
Steve Gordon 19:02
Yes. And he said, I, you know, the reason that and he was at the time, bringing back a bunch of books that he had written previously and doing new editions. And he said, The reason I’m doing that is because it allows me to do a book launch. But the other reason is that all of my biggest clients tend to stumble upon one of my books, maybe they see an ad because he was doing books with entrepreneur press, and they would run ads and all of the airline magazines for his books. That was part of his deal.
Al McBride 19:33
Steve Gordon 19:34
right. And so they’d be sitting in first class and oh, I need that book, or they discovered at a bookstore, somebody would hand them a copy, well, maybe you aren’t going to get a book deal that’s going to put you in all of those places. But you can get awfully close to that by doing your own book, you know, and then following some of the processes that we’ve talked about some of the things we teach our clients, getting yourself in position where people can discover you
Al McBride 20:00
It is the thought that just came to mind is the phrase. He wrote the book on it. Yeah, you know, which is a shorthand for expert authority knows their stuff. Absolutely. So that that’s what you’re really tapping into. It sounds like a fascinating and brilliant method. I mean, is there a particular criteria? You mentioned service based businesses? Is there anything else you look for? And equally, is there any red flags that you might say, you know, you have to go and change something in your thinking, and then come back to us in a little while.
Steve Gordon 20:38
Yeah, very much. So. So when, you know, when I get an intake form, from a potential client, and they’re talking about how they want to sell 50,000 copies of their book, I know that they aren’t the right fit for our methodology. So there really are two types of books in the world of business, okay, there are the, you’re going to become the next New York Times bestseller kind of book. And those are great. Most business owner owners will never write that kind of book for a couple of reasons.
Steve Gordon 21:11
One, they don’t have a big enough audience already, that would get them to that level, because the publishers aren’t promoting you anymore, that you’re responsible for your own promotion, they’re only going to give you a book deal, if they think you’ve got a big enough audience that can sell the book. So they’re not giving you the marketing help that they used to. And then you’ve got to have the budget to go and market that thing on launch. And, you know, typically, you’re going to spend anywhere from 100,000, to 200,000, to make the bestseller lists in the US.
Steve Gordon 21:44
And that doesn’t count writing the book, and editing it and packaging it and all that kind of thing. There’s a there’s a place for that. And, and in certain types of businesses, that makes sense. And sometimes you don’t necessarily need all of that marketing behind it, if you’ve got an enormous audience, you know, so if you’ve got an email list of a quarter of a million people, getting to bestseller status, probably going to be pretty easy for you. And you might want to go that route.
Steve Gordon 22:09
But 99% of business owners, who would benefit from a book, really want what I call a lead generating book. And that’s usually a short book, that is probably not going to sell very many copies, but you’re gonna make millions of dollars off of giving them away over the course of time. And those are the people that that we can help. You know, they’ve got a unique approach to how they deliver their service. They’re really expert at what they do, but they need to multiply themselves. And, and the book effectively multiplies the their ability to get their message out.
Al McBride 22:48
Okay. And how do you integrate that into a wider networking strategy? Because you have the book, you you, you’re engaged with people that already like you, as you’re saying, support you, is I presume there’s more steps in that process not to get all of the secrets out of you. But
Steve Gordon 23:06
no, let’s go through it all. So yeah, great. So we start with that kind of closest network, because you already have a relationship with them. But before long, you’re going to run out of relationships there that that will share the book, once they’ve shared it, you know that it may be a little while before they share it again, maybe a year. So you’re always out networking, right? I used to do that I used to do, I was involved in one of the big networking international organizations. Their advice was to spend about eight to 10 hours a week networking, I did that. That’s, gosh, it was a slog. I was doing breakfast meetings and lunch meetings, and you know, coffee dates, and all the stuff you’re supposed to do, which we can’t do any more at the moment with the current state of the world.
Al McBride 23:52
Steve Gordon 23:55
And it was great. It worked to a degree, but I finally just decided I wanted to spend time with my family. And so I started leveraging another tool, which is a podcast, using that as a networking tool. And the reason that I like it, is, again, it gives it gives you a lot of leverage in your business development. So what I found when I was doing the in person networking and going to the, you know, the mixers by the Chamber of Commerce or the trade association, or whatever, is that the people I really needed to talk to, were at those events, they sent people to those events, decision makers, right, right.
Steve Gordon 24:37
They got better things to do. So I wasn’t getting in front of the right people. And when I started using the podcast to go and reach out to the people I really wanted to talk with I found it was it was shockingly easy to get another business owner that I couldn’t call on the phone and get to answer the phone and take my call But if I sent an email and said, I have this podcast, and I think you do really interesting work, and I’d love to connect with you and interview you about what you do. And then I’m going to share it with everybody that I know in the, you know, in the market. Would you be interested in sitting down with me for 30 minutes? I mean, they’re tripping over themselves to do this.
Al McBride 25:18
Yeah, I mean, I’ve found that a similar thing with my podcast. As you select people who maybe you don’t know if I said what they would might get on the phone call with you, per se, but they’re happy to sit for 30 to 60 minutes and talk about what they do. And I think a lot of people, particularly professional services, people, I did all that when I was an art dealer in a previous life and as an art consultant at that stage. And I don’t think even to this day, I can’t remember one sale from all the networking I did.
Al McBride 25:52
My sales came from directly approaching different you know, blocks of potential clients and that worked out very well. But that said the networking was fantastic for getting to know business potential business partners for project later on mentors and old friends you know, now Well friends this stage, so it was hugely valuable, but not directly for this. So I can totally can feel that you know, that a lot of people find that frustrating and, and very inefficient use of time, which, as you said was become more and more prevalent in the 30s lockdowns and disruptions COVID stuff.
Al McBride 26:36
Do you feel everyone should have a podcast? Or do you feel there should be certain, certain boundaries around that? Because I’m reticent to recommend people start a podcast per se. You know, do you have any thoughts around that?
Steve Gordon 26:49
Depends on your expectations for the podcast. If your expectations are that you’re going to go into this and all of a sudden you’re going to have, you know, 50,000 listeners to your podcast, you’re probably going to be disappointed. And I you know, I always tell our clients that you’re not doing it for the listenership the listenership is is a strategic byproduct, it’s a bonus. Okay, but you’re really doing it for the opportunity to create the relationship because you’re going to create this relationship.
Steve Gordon 27:26
And if you do it thoughtfully, and strategically, you’ve invited someone who might be a great referral partner, if they’ve got a network or an audience of people, that would be a great fit for your business. And so you can invite them on. And you can interview them and share that. And basically, what you’re doing is I call it leading the collaboration, you’re saying, instead of us just showing up at, you know, for a lunch meeting and walking away, saying, we both really love to have this fantastic, mutually beneficial relationship.
Steve Gordon 27:43
And then you both never follow up, again, you’re showing up and saying, you know, what, I really believe in this relationship. And I’m going to lead the way by shining the spotlight on your expertise. And I’m going to share it with everybody that I know. And then at the end of this, we can have a conversation and say, you know, I’d love to reciprocate, and share some expertise with your audience. You know, I wrote this book. And you’ve probably got people in your network that you know, that need help with whatever you wrote the book about?
Steve Gordon 28:27
And, and have we went through the value conversation before, but basically have that conversation with them and say, you know, would you be willing to sit down and let’s brainstorm how we could give this book as a gift to everybody that you know, and, you know, I’ve done that with people who have 10s of 1000s of potential clients in their audience. Now, we didn’t send them all the physical copy of the book. In that case, we gave away an ebook, right?
Steve Gordon 28:57
Because economically, it wouldn’t have worked otherwise. But I’ve also done it with people, you know, who’ve had, you know, two dozen perfect prospects, in which case, I sat down and said, each of those perfect prospects, a signed copy of my book, physical, you know, in Priority Mail, so you can sort of calibrate how you deliver it to the size of the audience, but now you’re getting exposed to an awful lot more prospects and in a really powerful way, because you’re being introduced as the guy or the gal that wrote the book.
Al McBride 29:31
Yeah, I mean, we touched on it’s a beautiful plan, you can start to see how the different pieces are sloughing together very nicely for a very powerful marketing plan. And you’ve touched on some of the errors and some of the red flags. Now even just to take a slightly different perspective on though what what do you feel are some of the myths or the common misunderstandings that a lot of professionals who are very good at the server They deliver, as you say, but you know, they’re just not really getting that traction of regular stream of clients coming in what what are some of the some of the common myths there? Do you think?
Steve Gordon 30:11
I think the biggest one is that if I just do really great work, people will find me.
Al McBride 30:19
Right? So the Field of Dreams problem, a little bit of a build, that they’ll come if I build a great body of work, I will get referrals. And they do a little bit so it’s not completely false. It’s just a dangerous premise. Yeah.
Steve Gordon 30:33
It’s it’s not a a systematic and reliable way to build your business. It yes, it does work. And often it works just well enough to get you to believe, but never well enough to really set you free.
Al McBride 30:47
So it’s kind of dangerous that way is that it works a bit. Right, it works a little bit just enough to Tz. Very true, very true. Just a thought on this one, it’s something I often ask guests is, you know, what do you believe that most don’t? And it’s really just trying to dig at, I’m always interested in people who are very accomplished. about what’s their unique point of view? Do you feel you’ve any point a unique point of view on on, on a certain aspect of business or certain aspect of networking? You’ve touched on a few of them? So I’m just wondering, is there another one or one that joins the whole thing up?
Steve Gordon 31:30
Well, yeah, I think the the overarching one is that I believe that, that if you are selling your expertise, you’re selling a service, that the way that you sell that is fundamentally different and unique in the world of sales. And it is unique for a number of reasons. Number one, usually, we’re dealing with a very sophisticated buyer of those services, you know, the people who are hiring you have hired others like you often and, and they they know a few things. And so we’re not going to fool them with silly marketing tactics right?
Steve Gordon 32:11
There, you know that your clients are typically spending a fair amount of money with you. And that changes the dynamic and, and increases the amount of trust that’s required. But most importantly, going back to what we said at the beginning about all the different hats that you’re wearing. You know, if you’re trying to be the sort of always be closing salesperson, on the front end. And I know a lot of a lot of professionals mark that way. And then this is the I think the real challenge of it. If you follow like all of the sales, training and the advice and all that you’re going to end up doing things that will tend to erode trust,
Al McBride 32:51
Steve Gordon 32:52
And then you’ve got to go, Okay, great. I’ve eroded trust here in this relationship a little bit, but I certainly got you closed. Here we are, Mr. client, I’ll be right back, I’m going to go in that phone booth over there, I’m going to put on my Superman, cape and tights, and I’m going to come out, and I’m going to save the day for you, because that’s what you’ve hired me to do. And it doesn’t work. And, you know, you want to everybody likes to look at the medical professionals, oh, the doctors, the doctors have got this figured out.
Steve Gordon 33:22
Because they knew that, like, we’re going to ask people to do this really ridiculous thing. Like, we’re going to come at them with knives and needles, and ask them to take their clothes off in front of us, and we’re going to do really uncomfortable things to them, they have got to really trust us. Which means we can’t be doing all of the things over here that cause people not to trust. And if you go way back into, like, sort of 1800s medicine.
Steve Gordon 33:50
Here in the US there are all these stories of these folks, snake oil salesmen, they would go around, and they would dress up like doctors because there was no credentials of doctors at the time. And, you know, and and they would have some cure, right? And they would, they would use all of these crazy selling tactics. And people began not to trust that and so that as the medical profession evolved, they realize this is a big problem.
Steve Gordon 34:15
You know, we have the little prescription pad and if we write the prescription and tear it off and hand it to somebody, if they don’t trust us enough to fill it, we haven’t actually helped them. Right. And every one of us that’s in the advice giving business has that same problem if we have eroded trust so that when we give them a prescription, they don’t fully trust that it’s in their interest to fill it, then they’re not going to follow through and they’re always going to have in their mind that little bit of question and doubt. That is why selling expertise is different. And if you don’t approach it differently, you are going to be frustrated.
Al McBride 34:49
That’s fascinating, because you’re sparking all sorts of thoughts. First of all, I didn’t realize that it makes perfect sense that it was due to snake was oil. About snake oil salesmen and con men that actually made the medical profession more professional by having strict credentials and monitoring themselves and all that sort of stuff. And it also reminds that of, of how some fascinating research again, out of the states on malpractice suits.
Al McBride 35:19
So when do some patients Sue or press charges? depending on what you’re talking about? When did they take that action rather than just accepting essentially an apology? And it’s literally that it’s like, it’s basically, it depends on how much trust was built with the doctor in question. And if the person said, Oh, the doctor spent time with me and a refill, they understood blah, blah, blah, no, no, we all make mistakes. You know, I wasn’t happy about the mistake we all make.
Al McBride 35:47
Whereas they’re far more likely to sue if it’s like, Oh, I didn’t feel I was treated like a human being, he barely gave me any time, blah, blah, blah, said the trust is exactly the difference was very low, they’re going to press charges anything wrong, or sue the person, you know, probably suing, right, it’s probably imagine a criminal. But it’s just a huge difference.
Al McBride 36:09
And we paralleling into law and accountancy, when they have a fiduciary responsibility, where they’re there, which, you know, the definition is that I put your interests above my financial interests, that your well being an interest or above my financial interest, which is what it’s meant to be with you, you’re gonna have another discussion whether that’s always the case, but it’s that same idea of trying to establish trust, right. So sorry, go ahead.
Steve Gordon 36:42
I was just gonna say, I think that’s the way all of us should be approaching our client relationships is that, you know, even if you don’t have the legal responsibility of a fiduciary, you want to be thinking of it that way. I mean, what is the long term success route is to be thinking of it that way, no matter what business you’re in, we’re marketing. It’s very hard for us to actually damage someone, you know, but I still want to make sure that whatever we are prescribing as our cure, is appropriate for them for where they are in business, you know, and what stage they’re at.
Steve Gordon 37:16
And all, there are so many factors, and I think everybody who is is in an expertise business knows this. And and we all, you know, I think most people tend to want to practice that that way. The key is to build your marketing so that it puts that on display, engender trust, before you’re ever in conversation with someone because by the time you’re in a sales conversation, whether you call it the initial consultation, or you know, whatever discovery session, we put all these fancy terms around, it’s a sales conversation.
Steve Gordon 37:49
They know it, you know, it, right? You know, so we want to create so much trust that by that point, they already trust you, they already know that you’re the one they want to work with, they already basically understand your solution. And they just want to know, can you apply the solution to me? Does it fit? Is it appropriate? And what are the terms of the deal? Can I pay? You know, can I afford this? Right? And how long get it down work? Right? Yeah. And if not, your sales conversations down to that, let me tell you, you don’t have to be real good at selling.
Al McBride 38:21
Right? Yeah, very true. Very true. It helps if you are. But put, yeah, once the trust is there, as you say. And as we were talking about connected to the earlier conversation about the inherent authority of being the person on the book, the writer of the book on the subject, it changes the dynamic radically.
Steve Gordon 38:45
So let me just if I if I sort of put a bow around all of this. And so the reason that we ended up with the book and the podcast as the two methods, it really comes back to what we’ve talked about with the the time constraint problem for most professionals. Okay, and so we talked a little bit about how the book allows you to package up your ideas.
Steve Gordon 39:07
And now they’re really easy for people to share. You don’t have to be there. So you can get 10,000 copies of your book out as easy as you can get 10. Right. All right, that becomes really powerful, and gives you a lot of leverage and allows you to plant seeds. So I think of books as planting seeds. I don’t know when they’re all going to sprout and produce fruit. But the more of them that I get out there, the more prosperous I’m going to be today and in the future.
Steve Gordon 39:31
All right. And so that’s a leveraged way to get your thinking your ideas out. The podcast now comes in and allows you to do basically all of your other business development. So we talked about the networking component of it, but we’re recording all of these conversations like you and I are today. And this is gonna get repurposed into content.
Steve Gordon 39:50
And so, you know, when we’re working with one of our clients on this, they’re, they’re taking this networking and turning it into a weekly content piece. sent out to everyone in their database by email. It’s posted in multiple formats to LinkedIn and YouTube and Facebook and, you know, Twitter and wherever else that they have a presence.
Steve Gordon 40:11
And so all of a sudden for that business owner that has no time because hopefully, they’re busy with clients, that one hour investment a week, allow them to connect with either a really great referral partner, or maybe a really great potential client, establish and build that relationship in a way where they’re adding a lot of value right out of the gate, and then take the byproduct of that this recording and have all their other marketing done. So everybody’s nurtured. There’s nothing to write, there’s nothing to do at one hour, it creates a lot of leverage. And so that’s why those I just wanted to give that big picture view of why we settled on these two strategies.
Al McBride 40:49
It’s, I mean, it’s a beautiful big picture view. I mean, it’s, it takes, it’s difficult to do yourself, you know, there’s a lot once you dive into it, there’s a lot of moving parts that you need to systematize, as you said, you do the interview, but usually have an assistant and it’s additive. And there’s all these little steps. But once that’s taken care of when you have the system in place, it is actually just that, isn’t it. It’s an extremely efficient use of your time. I mean, it’s one of the things I love about the podcast, I get to talk to people I’m interested in talking to just putting it up.
Al McBride 41:26
And then people email and Oh, that was really interesting with such and such, you know, and oh, that was an interesting thought there, I hadn’t realized that and that kind of thing. So it’s just, as you said, it builds up that it builds up that sense of presence, in a very easy way, dare I say, easy? Oh, tell me something, just just to link it in with my own stuff.
Al McBride 41:48
Because we were talking about trust, we were talking about, you know, building up systems, you know, for me, negotiation, deal making, whether it’s doing through pitching or proposals or through other methods. It does, you know, the more trust that you can build the batter. And I’m just wondering, what advice would you have for people on, you’ve been a CEO of a number of companies, you’ve been working with a huge amount of as a domain experts in many ways. What are some of your key sort of, you mentioned one about essentially adopting that approach of the fiduciary responsibility for your clients. And building that trust, what would be some of the other rules of thumb that guide you when you’re making agreements when you’re working with people?
Steve Gordon 42:42
Well, so it’s, it’s interesting I, in my first business, which was an engineering consulting firm, we, we worked for 20 years with this one particular client, they were our largest client, we probably did a million and a half $2 million a year with them in business, all of it on a handshake. Right? Never had a contract. They never question an invoice they paid in every invoice within 30 days, we never had an issue, there were a couple of of liability related things that came up along the way.
Steve Gordon 43:28
You know, over the course of the 20 years, only one of them was actually one that we were, you know, we made a mistake. And we, you know, step up right away and said, Hey, you know what, this one’s on us, just tell us, you know, how much we need to write the check for, let’s get this fixed as quickly as we can. It was that kind of relationship. And the thing that I learned from that, you know, was that and we got paid premium fees, we were getting paid two times market value, two and a half times market value.
Steve Gordon 43:58
And the client would tell me, you know, I have your competitors coming in here all the time. They want our work. This was a, you know, kind of a marquee client in our geographic area. And I said, they’re all very frustrated, because I, you know, I meet with them, and I’m polite, but they’re never going to work with us. And he told me something really instructive, and I was probably only three years out of college I just started with the company was before I took over a CEO. And he said, the reason that I work with you guys, is because anytime there’s any inkling of a problem, even if it’s not yours, you lean into the problem. And it’s never a question of who’s at fault. It’s how do we fix it?
Steve Gordon 44:40
And he said, I’m not ever really that concerned with who’s at fault. I know, we’ll work that out. But we want to fix it because we want to serve our customers, and you help us serve our customers. And that really taught me that whenever we’re working with a client, if we can help facilitate how they make money, we’re going to have a really long relationship and we don’t need a whole lot of legal stuff to make it work, because our interests are their interests. And if if that’s always the case, then there’s never any conflict. And it’s easy.
Al McBride 45:13
Makes a lot of sense a line, if you can assure, ensure your interests are aligned and act on that basis. Yeah. But that’s a very interesting phrase that, as you said that that individual told you that he felt you were working as much for them as for their clients. So they got that, you know, I often talk about, you know, people understanding the KPIs of the other side is what’s important. How does that person sitting opposite, you win? How do they measure that winning that improvement?
Al McBride 45:46
And as you said, for this individual, it was the idea of what do my customers need? And how do I facilitate that? Yeah. Very, very interesting. Yeah. It’s a great point. It’s a great point, Steve. Yeah, so just on that note, you know, we all have some struggles, and we all have some setbacks. What were some of the bigger that what was some of the most instructive either failures or setbacks that you’ve had in your career? And how did that instruct you?
Steve Gordon 46:20
To come to mind, one was a small one, but very instructive, and the other one was a pretty big one, the small one, I was probably six months, out of six months, or a year out of college, I was managing projects at this engineering firm, and we had a client that was chronically slow at providing feedback and giving us what we needed to make certain submittals in this government approval process.
Steve Gordon 46:46
And if you let those things sit too long, they expire, you have to run your start back over at the beginning, it’s sort of like, you know, do not pass, go go directly to jail, you’re gonna sit for a little while you’re gonna get to experience this again, you know, find the fun of bureaucracy, but you know, I was managing this project, the client failed to get what they needed in a timely manner, but I wasn’t on top of it, right. And, and so we had to start over, the client was very understanding, but it was gonna cost I think, $800 to pay the fee, again, to have the government agency review it.
Steve Gordon 47:26
And I went to, you know, the owner of the company, my boss at the time. And I said, You know, I, this is completely my fault. And I’m not going to make any excuses for it. There aren’t any other note. It happened, it has happened, it’s going to cost us $800. And, I mean, I was in college, I didn’t have any money other than what I was kind of living paycheck to paycheck kind of getting on my feet.
Steve Gordon 47:49
I said, if you need me to write you the check for the whole thing, I’ll figure it out, I’d love to split it up, you know, if we could do and I’m like, giving him all of these ways that I’m gonna pay it back? And he said, No, I just wanted to know that, you know, you would take responsibility will cover it, you know, not the end of the world. You know, $800, to me at the time was a big deal. Now, you know, you know, it’s it’s not nothing, but it wouldn’t be a big deal. I learned a lot just from that experience, and how to handle things, that problems are always smaller and easier to deal with if you deal with them right away.
Al McBride 48:23
Interesting, right? Yeah, no, absolutely. As you say, it’s, it’s all very well saying no, but when you have that experience, the visceral experience of that stress. But also, then, as you say, on reflection that, you know, you made a decision that was difficult that you confronted, you took ownership of it, and then it’s something you’re gonna look back and be kind of a little bit proud of it and sort of say, yeah, that was, that was the right way to do it.
Steve Gordon 48:51
That’s funny, even still describing it, I still sort of in the pit of my stomach, feel what it was like to walk into his office. Like, ah, you know, years later,
Al McBride 49:01
still feel it? Yeah.
Steve Gordon 49:04
But the other one was much bigger, same company. And, you know, in the 2008 2009, economic crash, we were working primarily for land development companies in South Florida. And that business, in about the course of six months, just ceased. And so we saw, we saw about 80% of our clients, either suspend all work and go into hibernation or go out of business themselves. Well, and, you know, there are very few businesses that will survive that.
Steve Gordon 49:39
So thankfully, we were in a position where, you know, my partners and I, we could, you know, we could kind of wind things down, but we made the difficult decision that that business wasn’t going to go forward. And, you know, and had to, you know, lay off the staff and, you know, wrap things up. It was the right decision, because, you know, we were We’re going to either dump money, you know, all the money we had saved in earned into that business over the course of the next decade, because it took about that long for, for that industry to come back. You know, really just within the last three, four years as it started to revive.
Steve Gordon 50:17
But but it was difficult, and I was the one that had to make the decisions. And I found I found out very quickly who, who my friends weren’t who they weren’t. Right, then people that I thought were very close friends turned out not to be. And, and there were some people that surprised me that sort of, you know, said, Look, this is a terrible thing, but we’ve got to go through it. And, you know, and sometimes in life, you have to go through very difficult things. And so, you know, for me, personally, it was a challenge.
Steve Gordon 50:48
Because it you know, anytime you cut off your income for any, any length of time, it creates a challenge, I was able to start this business and do what I really love to do. You know, this was really the thing that I enjoyed most about running that businesses, I was doing the sales and marketing. And now I get to help other people, you know, learn the things that we learned in that business, and then, you know, learn things that we’ve we’ve mastered, since then with all of our clients.
Steve Gordon 51:16
And so out of that came tremendous confidence that, you know, not only could I build one business, you know, up to really get success, but I can do it again, there’s a pattern to this. And I know hope, I hope I never have to experience that. But if I ever do that, you know, I’ll get right back even quicker, because I now I’ve refined even, you know, the methods that I use to start this business.
Steve Gordon 51:42
And so, yeah, those are sort of the two disasters that I’ve we’re the first ones not so much a disaster, but a real learning experience. second one was probably definitely a disaster, but also a learning experience. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. As difficult as it was. As much as I don’t have to experience it again. I learned things that a lot of business owners will never learn because they’ve never gone through it.
Al McBride 52:04
Exactly. Pressure makes diamonds as they say, Yeah, absolutely. So thank you very much for a great conversation, Steve. So if people want to check out your books, check out your podcast, where’s the best place for them to do that?
Steve Gordon 52:19
So our website is unstoppable CEO dotnet. But how we’ve set up a page just for your listeners, and so they go to unstoppable CEO dotnet slash Goliath, they will find a link where they can download a copy of my book podcast prospecting, which talks about everything that we’ve gone over here, how we use the book in the podcast together as a kind of really high leverage system to do your business development. And so then get a copy of that for free.
Steve Gordon 52:21
There’s a place on there where if you want to reach out and have a conversation with me, you can book a time on my calendar, we’d love to talk with you. And you can also find all kinds of episodes. We’ve interviewed now over 200 people on the podcast, including the very famous Al McBride, so find that there, so go check that out, too.
Al McBride 53:13
Yeah, and that was a great conversation. So thank you again for that, Steve. I link to that below the podcast with all the other links that you mentioned. So excellent stuff. Well, thank you very much. And talk to you soon. Cheers.
Steve Gordon 53:27
Yes, thank you. This has been fun. Thanks.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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