052: Mike Capuzzi on how to use short, helpful books to market Main Street businsses

Mike Capuzzi

Mike Capuzzi got an engineering degree, went to work for a software company, became part of the marketing department when the company decided to create a marketing department. He then started his own marketing company (along with a couple other companies).

His main venture is called Bite Sized Books, and the idea to help “Main Street Businesses” create short, helpful books (“shooks”) as sales devices for business owners like lawyers, dentists, consultants, and other services.

In this episode, Mike shares:

  • How he got his first clients.
  • How he read a book by Dan Kennedy that changed his whole approach and led him to partner with Kennedy to build a great in-person event that led to lots of business (and how he didn’t have to be a hot shot to do it).
  • How he realized that the traditional authority play for business leaders (like Rusty Shelton mentions in this episode) doesn’t fit with “Main Street Business” owners and what they should do instead.
  • Why “less is more” when writing and reading books.
  • How changes in digital publishing make it relatively cheap and easy to use short, helpful books as promotional materials.
  • Why your book needs a good call to action.
  • Why Mike thinks “shooks” are the best marketing investment a “Main Street Business” can make. (Mike and I also discuss how the shook compliments other marketing approaches.)
  • The most important thing for distributing your shook: not Amazon (most of his clients don’t even list their books on Amazon), but OPC (Other People’s Customers). Mike gives an example of how to use OPC to get the word out for your business.

052 Mike Capuzzi on using short helpful books for marketing for Main Street Businesses.mp3 – powered by Happy Scribe

Love helping your clients, but hate sales and marketing. But somehow you ended up with sales and marketing responsibilities. Then this is the podcast for you, chief nerd Reuben Swartz here. And I spent a long time learning these lessons the hard way. And I want to help you learn them the easy way by sharing my experiences and talking with brilliant people who have figured out how to hack not just the code, but the sales and marketing process as well. Of course, as a nerdy person who hated struggling with complex CRMs, I had to create my own CRM for people who actually hate selling, which sounds like an oxymoron.

But if it sounds interesting to you, check it out at Mimiran dot com (www.mimiran.com). That’s m i m i r a n dot com and whether or not you need a new CRM. You’ll find proposal templates and sample lead magnets to help you grow your business. Now let’s get to it.

Today I’m super excited to have with me Mike Capuzzi. He is the well he is the Mike Capuzzi of Mike Capuzzi dot com. He’s been doing marketing and consulting for over two decades. He’s also the owner of bite sized books and we’re gonna get into that in a second. But he did not start off thinking he was gonna become a marketing consultant, quite far from it. And we’ll get into that in just a second. But first, let’s get to the important stuff.

Mike, welcome to the show. And what do you have in your glass?

Hey, Reuben, thank you very much. And as we just kind of thanking you, is is kind of neat that I get to drink a glass of wine. A little earlier than I normally would, but I have a barrel aged cabernet sauvignon.

Okay. Yeah. So somebody makes it.

It’s called it’s from at least the one barrel works. Okay. Yeah. That’s the name of this one.

You know, just in case someone’s really into about half like Barrelhouse. Okay.

I like to leave it in the show notes so that you’re like, gosh, you know, maybe it was the wine that that caused that brilliant train of thought. They can go find the exact same wine. I’m about to pour myself a glass of Murphey good California Pinot Noir.

And it’s OK if I slurp. Then right on your show. Absolutely. Slurping is allowed.

Slurping is allowed. Cheers. Welcome here. Thank you.

And that’s a great way to start the evening slash afternoon before long before you were somebody who wrote I believe it’s seven or eight books.

Are you up to now. Nine acts. Nine. OK. I can’t even keep up.

Before you did all that, before you helped other people write books. Before you did all this marketing consulting. Take us back to what you were doing. Yeah.

And it’s relevant to your background, even in that I am a graduate from Penn State University with a degree in industrial engineering. I actually went to Texas A&M for a year for marine engineering. So marine structures. But back in the 80s, being that far away from home in Pennsylvania was just too much. So I transferred, went to Penn State, graduate with a degree and for a couple years, right out of college, I had the good fortune of being able to be employed by an engineering company doing engineering work.

But I, you know, got a little tired of that and joined a fledgling, rather young software company back in the day. I was employee number 57. It’s now up over probably 5000 employees. It’s they’ve just gone huge. And it was an engineering software company that did computer aided, designed to be started crafting a company called Bentley Systems.

And I was in a technical role there, but then moved into they were just a strictly a development house and they had to start doing marketing of the software. So we formed a marketing team and I was one of the founding members of that marketing team back in the mid 90s.

And, gosh, traveled the world, met the woman who is now my wife at that company. And it was a very cool ride, but I always had the entrepreneurial itch. And right now the middle of a dot com bubble, I left that software company and started a software marketing consulting company.

So let’s go back to you’re an engineer at this company, full engineers. They’re like, we need to market this stuff. I know Mike looks like he knows something about marketing. How does that happen?

Why didn’t they hire outsiders or more recruit some people who knew marketing? Why did they pick engineers to do the marketing?

Well, you know, I think the first thing they did right, they did have people they were bringing in from outside that were employees. But they we were a young company. I always likened it to like a speedboat back in those days. So we are very agile and the opportunity just arose.

And the gentleman who was the vice president of the the marketing group just reached out to me. I was always very good on, you know, interacting with clients. I was speaking at various training events. So is this something you. Yeah, a lot of the guys that were coding, which I was not a coder. I was not a developer. You know, they just wanna stay behind their screen. I was I was happy to be talking to people.

So I always had an interest in marketing and copywriting, in persuasion and just, you know, how to, you know, tap into people’s emotions. So they know we are likely to buy. So there was just always an interest of mine and it was a perfect seque from a technical role into a marketing role. Okay.

And what were you doing in the technical team before the marketing stuff started?

I was doing tech support. OK. Yeah.

And so. So now you’re striking out on your own. You’ve always wanted to do it. What made you say now’s the time to do it? And instead of doing a tech support company, I’m going to do a marketing company.

Yeah, well, at that point I was in a marketing role for almost five years. So I you know, I’d gotten bit by that bug. And, you know, it just the timing was my wife and I at that where we were at that point. We were married, no kids. And it was you know, she had a really good job also in software. And, you know, we just said, hey, this is a good time.

If if it didn’t work out, we always bounce back on her her salary and benefits. But the good news is, I was I will kind of take off and do well with it for a number of years.

OK. And how did you find your first clients?

You know, the old fashioned way of just relationships. So I can remember the first client who’s a former… So in my role in the marketing role of the software company, I had a team underneath me.

I rose up to like a director level. So I report to the V.P.. And then I had a team of people. It was one of my guys that was left. That company went out and joined another company who brought me into that other company. So that’s that’s how I got my first client. It was I had them for about a year and they were a startup software company that I think eventually got bought out. I’ve lost track of it is over 20 years ago now, but I think they eventually got bought out.

OK, working those relationships, not just the first one, but I’m guessing the first few clients, they came through your existing network.

All of them did.

As a matter of fact, all I had again, I was very fortunate and, you know, did good work. And it was a small I wasn’t looking to have this huge marketing company. I don’t even today I’ve always had this. I like keeping it simple, lean and. Yeah.

But I worked with some awesome software companies for a number, you know, for five or six years during the dot com days when things were just amazingly lucrative and in and beyond that. All right.

I think that’s really important. I think so many people are a little bit shy about reaching out to the people that they already know and saying, hey, this is what I’m up to if you or anyone, you know needs this kind of thing. And by the way, who can I connect you with? You don’t have to always do things the hard way, right? People already know you and they like you and they trust you, but they have no idea what they’re what you’re doing because you started something new. They can’t give you money and you’re depriving them of your talents. Yeah.

I mean, most definitely. And it’s you know, there’s so many I call them shiny objects in the marketing world, in the online world and the social media world and listen, they all have their place. But there’s nothing like what you and I are doing right now. You know, breaking you know, we’re not necessarily eating together, but breaking bread and just getting to know each other. And you just never know.

And and, you know, you and I were chatting a little before we started the podcast. But even just today, earlier today, a very well known I mean, world renowned marketer, business expert. I reconnected with him and he invited me out of the blue. I mean, this is out of the blue.

I had talked to him since 2013 and he invited me to speak at his one of his events in 2020. This just happened in the last few hours. And it’s just again, it’s amazing when you have those relationships. Shame on me for maybe not doing a better job, even staying in better contact with him. But it’s just need how that works out. Yeah.

I’m going to seque into something that’s a little bit self promotional here, so I apologize. But it’s this is such an important topic that I actually baked some of this into my software because I was having this problem and a lot of my customers and friends were having this problem, which, like you spend all day kind of doing the urgent stuff and then you want to have a life. And so some of those less urgent relationships like the person you haven’t talked to since 2013, you just don’t make the time to keep them fresh and vital.

And being a techie person, being introverted, it was easy for me to pretend like I was doing that on social media. And I realized it’s not the same thing. It’s like eating all fast food. You have to eat nourishing food if you want to be nourished.And so I literally baked in the ability to say, OK, this person, you have to you want to talk to them every how many days and you can put a number in more than 365.

That’s awesome,

because I knew that if I’d be like, well, I could talk to this person every five years, whatever. Right. And like, no, the whole idea is if they’re not worth talking to every year, what am I doing with them? Right. I don’t have enough time for everybody. I want to make time for the people who are awesome.

There’s so many awesome people that I don’t keep up with as much as I should. So anyway, yeah, it’s funny because we’re here to talk about like marketing and technology, all the stuff that so much of it just comes back to relationships.

Without a doubt. And the fact that you can help automate it because we all need reminders. Right. No matter what our best intention is or, you know. So I think that’s very cool. Is there a name for that feature? Because that’s a very cool feature. I love it.

No, maybe you can help me coin a name for it. That would be awesome. Just really like you tag your contacts and based on right tags, it tells you when you should talk to them next. And so I would go in and say, who’s overdue for a conversation? Right.

And make sure when you when when that’s in there. The other thing you should do is have it so that it reminds you that it’s your wife’s birthday or spouse’s birthday or partner’s birthday, whatever it is, or there’s an anniversary coming up. Because eventhose personal relationships are just as important, obviously. So any of those reminders. Ah, ah, ah. A good thing.

Well, what’s funny is I have all that stuff in our family Google Calendar and I have for a long, long time. And I’m the one who typically reminds my wife of, you know, her so and so her cousin’s birthday’s coming up or whatever does I know like I can’t remember it, but I have it in there specifically because I know I can’t remember things.

That’s very cool. I love it. Very good.

So that. Yeah. So definitely keep in touch with people. Definitely. Remember your spouse’s birthday and all that good stuff. Now you’re you’re in the height of the dot com boom. You’re signing clients. Everything is good. What happens next? How do you survive the dot com crash?

Yeah, well, you know, things definitely changed and you probably don’t know where you were back in 2002, 2003, 2004, that time period. But interestingly enough, a lot of things happened.

I mean, I was getting very, very nice contracts to do marketing projects, and they quickly changed. And then ironically, the company that I left wanted me to come back. There was an a shakeup there. And some people left and some new people came in. And I entertained that for a while and actually went to work with them as a vendor, if you will, partner for about a year. And we never, never came to terms on, you know, how it would be if I came back as employee.

But long story short, just there was there was things change. Things were changing. You know, there’s things changing even in me personally. And obviously on the business front, I mean, business is always evolving, but not to sound kind of cliche or corny.

I literally picked up a book. I’m a voracious reader. I love reading. I’ve got tons of books. And I picked up a book by a well-known marketer and it just was like an aha moment for me. And I started seeing a new way of marketing, a new way of positioning myself. And that was really, you know, not at that very moment, but within a year it was like a right hand turn, like a 90 degree turn. Reuben Where I just totally took a new new track.

OK, well, don’t leave us hanging. What was the book? Yeah.

So the book was by Dan Kennedy, who is a well-known marketer, copywriter, and it was his I think the first one was the no B.S. — he has this whole brand of no B.S., no B.S. business book.

No, no, no, no. It is no B.S. Direct marketing book. That’s what it was. OK, a little black book. I can look at my bookshelf now, and it essentially just talked about direct response marketing and how that’s different than the kind of corporate marketing that I was doing for the last ten years. And it just it, you know, personalized copywriting and personal copywriting and direct response copywriting. It just I just hook, line and sinker. I just started devouring everything I could read about from Dan and from, you know, people who are no longer with us back from the 20s and 30s and 40s the last decade, and just became a student of direct response marketing.

OK. And so did you start using that to find clients for your firm?

I did.

And what it did was it changed the focus of who I was working with. So instead of where I was working with large corporations, you know, fairly large, I mean, I was talking comp software companies that were 20 million. Seventy million. You know, there was a couple over in the one hundred plus million, you know, decent sized companies. I did get tired of working with the teams that started wearing on me because everything was sort of a you know, it’s like it’s a, you know, decision by committee.

And I started working with more the more of the small and medium sized business owners.

I call them tech called Main Street Business Owners. Even though they may not be on Main Street, per se, but it’s you know, it’s the bread and butter types of businesses, doctors, chiropractors, dentists, lawyers, professional services, software developers, small ones. And really just helping them implement specific types of marketing campaigns.

It’s funny because I had a sort of similar transition from large corporate clients to smaller. I like that Main Street business moniker.I don’t know what I what I call mind, but did use focus decide to focus on them, or were they the ones who happened to respond to your your outreach. How did you how did you shift that market?

Yeah, no, I decided it was definitely a decision. And again, you know, it’s funny how life happens. A lot of different things kind of happen. So and you probably didn’t know this because we didn’t talk about it nut because, well, I essentially became a business partner with Dan Kennedy and he had a business partner named Bill Glaser at the time.

And what they did was they established. So in his book, this is this is how it worked out in his book. And if you know anything about Dan, he always makes offers in his books. But he in his book, he said, listen, we are going to be starting local chapters where people of like minded business owners can get together and talk about marketing. Right. So I’m reading this in this book. And it gives you a number to call to find out where the local chapter was.

I called the number. You know, I’m outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They’re like, oh, we don’t have anybody there. But you sound like you’d be perfect. Right. Long story short, I became their their their business director, their independent business adviser in Philadelphia.

OK. And that was a springboard. It turned out, in the Philadelphia area. There was a huge appetite for people who followed Dan and Bill.

And I quickly became you know, there was about 100 of us around the country at the time I was in the Philadelphia area.

And I quickly grew up to be the biggest, largest, most successful one for several years. I would get 70, 80, 100 people, business owners each month coming out, too. It started out at a hotel. And then I went to a local university and rented a room and just every month got together for marketing. I’d bring him guest speakers. It was just it was it just. And then Reuben, which is really it probably appropriate for your listeners, without even asking for clients, I got clients because I was in the front of the room. I was leading a group. You know, people saw me as an expert. And I just I think just grew my business for five years before I sold that business.

So a couple of things, pop, pop, into my head here that I think I’d like to highlight yet. One is I feel like a lot of the folks listening to this and myself included, we have an inordinate desire to make things hard as opposed to, hey, this guy, Dan Kennedy, seems like he’s blow it up. Let me hitch a ride on his rocket ship. Let me do something that that is going to let me swim downstream and let somebody else do so much of the overall marketing support for me.

And then the other thing you did is brilliant that I want to ask more questions about you used live events And you got 80, 100 people to show up to them. Tell me more about that. How did you get all these busy business owners to take time out of their day to come join you, to hear you talk about marketing?

Well, and I’ll take one step back. I’m a nerd, too. I’m an introvert. Right. I one of the reasons I took this opportunity. And again, remember, I called to find out how I could just attend that thing. Right. And because of my background, they said, hey, you know. And by the way, the gentleman who signed me up for that.

That was in 2006. I just talked to him yesterday. We’re still friends today. He’s in his 70s now. He’s retired. But, you know, we’ve remained friends for all those years.

But, you know. The the idea of just getting out, there was something I wanted to learn to be a better public speaker. I wanted to learn to be a better person from the front of the room. I had done technical presentations for years, but now I was leading a group and I didn’t know what I didn’t know, to be honest with you. I said there were like 100 of these chapters around the country. So they’re all around the country.

And the other people I met these because we would do trainings together and share best practices and stuff. And a lot of these, most of them were men — it was a couple women that were doing it. But most of them were very experienced, very successful in their own niche. And, you know, they kind of looked at me like, who’s this guy? Because I was coming in new. And it turns out just my style. I was very I was always concerned about making sure every meeting was value packed because, like you said, I had people driving, too. I had people coming on a train from New York City to come to Philly for a night and then head back later on that night.

And, you know, things. Simple things, right? I tried, you know, everyone’s name. So whenever someone walked in the door, you know, hey, Reuben, how are you doing? I try to remember something personal. You know, I try to have great content. I try to bring in great guest speakers from time to time. And now this is from 2006. And I sold it to a member in 2011. So for five years, I never I missed one meeting in five years because of the snowstorm.

But, yeah, we my largest meeting was 323 people. And, you know, on average, at its high point, it was probably 80 or 90 a month.

How did you get these people to come? Were they on a mailing list originally?

Well, originally it goes back to when I joined this group with Dan and Bill. They they knew they had X number of people from the Philadelphia area. So they promoted me initially. And then it really grew by word of mouth.

You know, business owners that are marketing oriented, love to share. They loved. I mean, it was always like bring a guest. I had people bringing guests. And it just it grew so organically.

Reuben If I tried to replicate it today, I don’t I don’t think I could. It was just the timing was great. This is really before social media really kicked in. There was a hunger, there was a hunger for business owners to come to a place and learn good, smart, effective marketing.

Well, I think there still is. I think it’s not like the absolute has gotten very confusing. But now you can do it online. Now you can do it through podcasts that you could do through webinars, even though I still think face to face is critical. It’s just today it does seem like it’s a bit harder to get people, you know, to get in the car and drive. I mean, it’s in Philadelphia traffic.

That’s awesome. All right. So so you do that and then you sell this business and then what happens?

You know, just the typical journey. I you know, I started during that time, I I credit my own little software product, a product that kind of became a software product, which really put me on the map internationally. And that was a product copy doodles, which allows you to add handwriting and handwriting doodles to your marketing, which is a response mechanism. There’s a there’s a whole whole theory about why that kind of thing works.

But that literally put me on the international stage. I mean, I was speaking. I was. People were inviting me to speak at conferences, on webinars. We, that, business just blew up. I mean, we it was a very cool story. You know, thousands of members around the world. And even today, you know, we still have several hundred members that still use our our system. That was that.

So that was one thing. One pathway I took I started a marketing– I don’t know if I told you this, but did start a marketing automation company, which I still have. I have it with a couple partners. And we are in the unique niche of helping, of all things, independent mattress retailers with marketing automation. So don’t laugh.

Awesome. That’s a great niche.

So we have that and we help these guy, you know, retailers. I mean, Main Street business owners. Unfortunately, a lot of them don’t have the luxury of, you know, being aware of or tapping into stuff that geeky guys like you and me, you know, live and breathe. So when you tell them, hey, you know, someone obscene on your Web site, you can send automated personalized e-mails and get them to do things. And then if they do it, then you can track them and all this. They’re like, wow. Yeah, they never heard of that. Right. So when, you know, it’s kind of showing them fire for the first time. So we still have that business. I still have a consulting business. I still work with clients. And, you know, and then the other thing, as you well know, is I help some of my clients write their own little short helpful book. So I have a fun business and it affords me a kind of lifestyle that I like to have. And it’s it’s it’s it’s a good thing. Plus, I get to meet guys like you. Well, that’s that’s very nice of you. How’s that line working and must be working well. It’s working well now. Yes. Thank you.

Speaking of which, I have in my hands right now your Main Street Author book, short, helpful book or schook, as you call it. What should people know about this? And for folks who have been listening, you may be familiar with — we had an episode on a little while ago with Rusty Shelton, who talked about the importance of the importance of authoring a book and becoming an authority and how that can really help your business. And I think for a lot of people, they think, well, yeah, that’d be great, but, gosh, writing a book is so hard. I might be one of those people. Just just full disclosure for people who heard me promise, Rusty, that I was writing a book. I have done nothing to actually get started on that. But anyway, tell us a little bit more about this short, helpful book notion.

And by the way, Reuben, I did hear that interview and I think that was just about a year ago. So, yes, you are so bad. Yeah, well, maybe instead of thinking about writing a book, you should write a short, helpful book.

All right. So this is going to be a really, really interesting conversation with me, paying very close attention and taking detailed notes. All right.

So it I love how you’ve orchestrated this because it all ties together. Remember, I’m an engineer. I love, I’m still that kind of person. I still love this probably overengineer is a better word.

But I love looking at something, trying to figure out better ways, which is why Copy Doodles was created. I mean, I was literally back in the day and so are a lot of people hand writing and doing the doodles and stuff on it. I figured out a way to use less software. Do it for us. Right. So I’m a firm believer if you study the history of successful people, even for this ideal past hundred years in the business world, let’s say that because obviously, you know, books go back much further than that.

But if you study successful people, odds are they have at least one book and chances are to have multiple books. OK.

So, you know, in today’s environment, you see a lot of gurus, a lot of online marketers touting their books. And they’re doing that because it works. It works as a lead generation offer. It works as a authority establishing, you know, opportunity. But, you know, for Joe average business owner, who could probably figure out a way to use a book, if he doesn’t, he or she just knew what to do. There’s a big void, in my opinion.

Right.

So if you’re a big CEO or a big time guru and, you know, stroking s $50,000 check to help somebody someone help you write a book is not a big deal. There’s opportunities out there. But for what I call the main street business owner, the doctor, the lawyer, the chiropractor, the dentist who could benefit from a information first strategy which books afford.

Right. So books are informational devices. And if you have the type of product or sale or service that’s a bit complicated or needs some explanation or needs some positioning books work now quickly. Most books, in my opinion, are bloated.

I love to read and I still find it a struggle to read a two or 300 page book with everything else I have going on.

Right. So I started thinking, why not? You know, why does it have to be a two or 300 page book? It doesn’t. So I came up with this concept of the schook, which stands for Short Helpful book. They’re roughly 12 to 15 thousand words, which equates to about one hundred to a hundred twenty pages. There are real books, but they’re, you know, like I my Italian descent, you know, my grandmother would say that they’re made with a really special recipe and they have a recipe.

They follow and they just allow the consumer who’s interested in the topic to read them much quicker. And they allow you, the subject matter expert, to create them much quicker.

So, Reuben, you for you to sit down and craft a hundred to 120 page book on one specific part of what your CRM system does, not the A to Z tome, but one specific part.

And then if you need other Shook’s, you just do other Shook’s. I’m telling you, it’s much more doable for someone like yourself to crank them like this out.

And now I’m looking at your book. It’s one hundred and thirty three pages. So a little bit long.

It was that one. The original version was about 120. Yeah. Yeah.

It took me an extra like three minutes to read those like pages.

And then I, you know, as we talked about before, I’ve also got a book in my hands from Maura Thomas, customer friend and a guest of the show. And she’s an attention management expert. And so her recent book is I’m just flipping to the end of it right now. Ninety five pages. And the whole point was, both of you guys are like, I want to give people a book that people can read in an hour because people are busy.

And that hour, if you can recall, what was the last time you read an entire book from front to back? Was recently that I do that all the time.

OK, but I want to caveat that, which is I love a 200, 300, 400, 500, 600 page book. If I’m getting great information, I’m the kind of person who’s like it will tell me more about that. OK, great.

But what I hate is the two to 300 page business book that should have been 20 pages. Yeah, that’s the thing that drives me nuts is like I would give this book five stars. If you had condensed it down to 20 pages, I would’ve paid you twice as much money. Stop repeating the same crap over and over again. Yeah.

And then there’s a reason that happens. But listen, I read books, you know, beginning to end. But the real reason I was asking it was not so much the fact that you do it, but it was more about the accomplishment. Don’t you now you’re a voracious reader. It sounds like so pie.

Not as big a deal, but most people, when they set out to read a book and actually read it, there’s this little sense of accomplishment, like when you close that last page. I read this. I set out to read this. I read it.

So why not make that feeling easier for people so that, you know. Oh, here’s an hour.

It’s undivided attention for an hour. They’re focused on your message. That that in and of itself is a very powerful concept. You know, if you need to have the content of a 300 page book, which, by the way, I am not against big books, I’m just saying for most mainstream business owners, they don’t need that. So why not have. If you need three hundred page book, why not have three 100 page books divided up? Let them pick and choose which books they actually want to read.

OK. That makes sense. So let’s go to, let’s say, the doctor. Right. Like, there are doctors who write books and they tend to be at Harvard Medical School or whatever, and they write books for other doctors or every once in a while they write a book that maybe Oprah tells everyone to stop eating something or other. But why should a quote unquote, Main Street doctor write a book?

Well, let’s if I could, I mean, did it change the question a little bit?

Sure.

And analysts say a schook, because I want to just clarify. There are reasons to write, quote, a book. And again, most people who write a book, they’re looking to sell the book, whereas someone who writes a schook, a short helpful book, they’re looking to give anything away to anybody that, you know, as many people as they can, you know.

So this is not about selling books. It’s also not about trying to get on Oprah or any of that. Right. So that that that is a different pathway. And I listen to that. You know what Rusty was saying and that, you know, a lot of what Rusty and his company do is get people on that kind of pathway, which is obviously, you know, perfect for people who want that kind of thing.

But for the doctor who has a specific, you know, service in his or her local community and is just trying to get more patients than a short, helpful book that is focused on the pain that he or she is solving is a much better strategy. And these are just to be clear, these aren’t meant to be literary tome, you know, literary masterpieces, they are sales devices, Reuben. They are sales tools. And we are offering great content, nut it is a sales tool and it’s designed to get the reader from interest to action.

It’s funny you mention that, because I actually took a note from page 26 in your book which says “Shook’s are not meant to be works of literary art and perfection.” Right. I think that’s an important disclaimer for people who might be thinking, gosh, I don’t know, I’m not Hemingway or Shakespeare or whatever. So let’s let’s get into the action. The action is they read the book and then they call you and become a client.

That’s the idea for my schook. Yeah. So my Shook’s call to action. So Shook’s have different types of calls to action and then which again, most people who write a book missed that completely. I mean if you write a book Reuben, and someone saying, hey, this is great what he has. I need it. You know, I need to either learn more about the software. I need to learn more about him. And if you don’t give someone the clear next step for the reader to do that, then shame on you.

Right. And a lot of authors miss that. So these are direct response books. They offer reasons to respond. And yeah, in the case of my schook Main Street author, it’s all about trying to get, you know, people who are reading it say, hey, you know, yes, I could do it on my own. That’s an option. Which is why the boy who wrote the book, here’s how to go do it. But if you want the fast track, you know, reach out to Mike and he can help you.

You also I mean, talk about doctors and lawyers and other folks just so we’re not just talking about you or me, for that matter. Like, suppose I’m a doctor, suppose I’m a lawyer, I’m an estate planning attorney or something. Right. I can write a book about how, I don’t know, “a shook”, sorry– a shook about estate planning for people with stepkids or something. Am I getting the idea right?

Yeah, I don’t. Yes. So let’s let’s go to the estate planning one, because I actually have 35, 36, 37. Estate planning clients, lawyers and our clients, and we are now working on a third schook, so we crafted Shook’s on Alzheimer’s disease, people who are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. We crafted a schook on that for the person who has to care for the person with Alzheimer’s. Right. So two distinct audiences. And now we’re actually going down a little bit deeper and focusing on dementia, which is a form of Alzheimer’s. So, yeah, I mean, these are, again, helpful information. You know, here’s things to be- you should be doing, you know, things. Be aware of what you know. But, you know, it’s book ended. Good, helpful information is book ended by. Here’s what to do next– Call my law practice, you know, an initial consultation.

Now, here’s something that I think you and I probably are very philosophically aligned on. But I’m curious to get your your take. I’m often telling people that their e-books, it’s sort of like the 30 to 40 page PDF document are terrible and they’ve spent a ton of time and money on design. And I can’t read the damn thing on my phone. And of course, I’m biased because my software wants nothing to do with that stuff. I’m like, just give him like at an eight point checklist that they can actually read in five minutes. And I feel like the schook has almost like the next level beyond that, like, OK. Instead of sending someone an e-book that they can’t read where they want to read it, you give him a book that they can read in an hour. Is that fair? Am I understanding correctly?

Absolutely. I’m you know, I don’t know exactly how old you are, but I guess we’re priced similar in age and yeah, I not going to disclose that with at least the first glass of wine. Right. But I mean, listen, the millions of people who’ve written books in the past didn’t, you know, become famous because they had an e-book, you know, vaporware, if you will. And again, I get them that they have their place. But the good old fashioned printed book, which is what Shook’s are, the number one format we produce for our clients is a print, you know, a print. We use paperback because these are meant to be cost effective. You don’t want to be giving away a a hardcover book to, you know, thousands of people. But these are paperback books like you’d find in a bookstore. And yeah, people I mean, people, they want to hold it. And depending on your target reader, they may expect to hold it if it’s an older demographic. So while we do do Kindle books and we do audio books for clients, this is still around the good old fashioned paperback book.

OK, now one of the claims you make is that dollar for dollar a schook is the most powerful customer attraction asset you can create. And of course, I highlighted that because I think it’s a very bold statement that I that I’m having trouble agreeing that categorically. But tell me more about why you say that.

Well, simply because people will throw a brochures, business cards, newsletters, you know, all the normal stuff that most people you call marketing, but most people don’t throw away books. So I don’t know when the last time you throw away a book was, but it maybe I should throw a more books, but they always end up on my bookshelf. But that’s why the first thing we are conditioned to realize that books have value. People are used to paying for books. I just bought some more books today on Amazon. Right. So were you conditioned to pay? We don’t pay for brochures. We don’t pay for, you know, a lot of the other, quote, marketing literature.

So just from a positioning and the perception from not ourselves, the authors, but from our readers and the public, there is a perceived difference. You hand someone a try. Listen, I’m one of you and I’m going to stay in contact when you get your book done. You’re sure down whatever you’re gonna do. And you had that first copy out to somebody, a suspect. You know, when you’re at a client meeting or you’re at a trade show, which they make great trade show giveaways, but when you’re there and someone says, hey, Reuben, why should I be using your CRM system and you about your your book, say, here’s why that’s a that’s a game changing difference.

And when when you realize, you know, what that physical book costs, which is a couple dollars, right the actual device. The actual book is a couple dollars today. Now, of course, all the time. And energy is something different. But. For a couple bucks, if you can hand these things out, it’s just that they’re just dollar for dollar. I just think I can’t think of anything better from a positioning. Good content. Good information. Good next step. Yeah, I think it should cause it. Where’s that?

All right. Well, I’m going to just I’m going to pass on that because I feel like we could spend the next hour debating that and not necessarily reaching a conclusion. But also let you raise an interesting point. Right. Which is that these things are like two bucks apiece. And so especially if you’re paying twenty dollars for an AdWords click, for example, which might in some circumstances, I think, be arguably the best money you could spend. You can actually do a bunch of these things. It’s not a huge investment the way people probably think of when that when they when they consider, well, if I had a book, gosh, it’s, you know, tens of thousands of dollars before I could start putting into people’s hands. Right.

Well, let’s go back to your AdWords example for an idea. So tell me, in your world or in your experience what you know, how would a mainstream business owner leverage an AdWords campaign? What could they do? And could a book be a part of that campaign? Cause I know I know what my answer would be, but I’d love to hear what you’re you know, what your thoughts on that would be.

And we don’t have video here, but this is Reuben pouring more wine and thinking, oh, great, I’m really not an AdWords expert, which is a whole other handy other thing.

Any online marketing, though, was it? Here’s what I was going though, with that. I don’t think it doesn’t replace it. Reuben, that’s I’m not saying it should replace. Right. But when you have a book and we sell this to our clients, you know, when you have that should done, what it does is it refocuses the strategy. And I call a schook centric strategy. So now, if you are doing AdWords or social media or Facebook, one of the things that you can do that’s different is you can now have a a bit different, maybe a bit more sophisticated offer.

Hey, get my book, you know. Now you’re running lead-gen ads offering the book versus whatever else they may be may have been offering. So that’s what I say.

Dollar for dollar, we hear so many ways that you can leverage a book that I just thing there’s few other marketing devices that allow you to really, you know, position yourself. You know, it’s a handout, all that. I just I would be hard pressed to think of something else.

Well, that’s a great point about you can run your online campaigns to a book request page or a book purchase page now. So if someone goes the trouble of creating a shock. So what sort of like the minimum number of copies that you’ve seen people create?

Well, the beautiful thing now is today with the way technology is, you know, print on demand just is made. It dropped. It’s either print on demand or Amazon. Then there’s others out there Ingram Spark. But regardless, they have the barrier is so low these days. When I did my first book in 2007, we had a print up like three thousand copies to get the price point anywhere, you know, where it was, you know, doable, if you will. Well, those days are gone. I mean, you can literally upload a book to Amazon, KDP Kindle Direct Publishing. That’s their publishing division. And if you just want one copy of the book, you can get one copy the book and it’s pretty cost effective. So, you know, you’re going to get a hard copy.

You’re going to get a Kindle copy.

It would be a paperback. It could be online. Yeah, it would be a paper, I guess.

You know, I’ve never me look into hardcover with Amazon what they do there, but just paperbacks. I mean, you could literally, you know, you don’t have to get hundreds, thousands or hundreds.

I advise my clients all the time starts do small batches, whether it’s Amazon or a book printer, just do small batches in case you have something you want to change. Sure. There’s no such thing as a perfect book, by the way. You’ll always have, no matter what. How good of a copy editor editor you have, you’re always going to find things. So just get that out of your head. But I like to say start small. You don’t want boxes of books.

What a small mean. Does it mean 10? Does it mean a hundred and a hundred.

I would say minimum typically is a hundred hundred at a time.

So if I, if I ask Amazon for one hundred copies of one of these sort of shook length books, how much is that going to run somebody.

Well, for the author, they have author copies. Right. So for the author, it’s much less costly. So it’s wholesale, if you will. So my Schook Main Street Author is $2.53 on Amazon. That’s what I pay when I order copies for myself.

And then. Do you recommend that people try to sell these or give them away or not?

Well, you can do. It depends. It does depend. But for the main. So we serve two two clients. We serve the main street business owner. We’ve already talked about that. Right. The local service and product providers. We also serve people like I don’t consider you a Main Street business owner, but you serve. Main street businesses. Business owners. So we we work with people like yourself also.

So it’s a little way of getting around and making a little broader in your case, like, will you? You would potentially have a, you know, a worldwide audience because your software could be used around the world. There could be I could contend that there’d be reasons why you might have a, you know, not necessary selling your book, but you could sell your book.

Could be for sale on Amazon, of course. You would not necessarily try to be selling it. You’d have a free book offer or whatever. But, yeah, for the most part, this is not about book sales. The local guy, the local gal, without it, we don’t even put them on Amazon most of the time because they don’t need to be on Amazon.

They just work with a book printer and and give the books away.

So I’m just looking up your book on Amazon right now. You pay $2.53 and it’s ten bucks for paperback. Right. Which is seems like a reasonable price point. Yeah. Yeah. Now. So. So these folks who who are they’re not on Amazon. How do they distribute this book. How do they get it in the hands of their prospects?

That’s a great question, because that’s that’s where my focus and why I do what I do every day. I love it. So, again, they’re not online gurus. They don’t have the ability to, you know, for them to set up a quick online site and do all the stuff. They just don’t typically have that expertise. So the local business owner, however, has very specific opportunities that the online guys don’t have. So they, for example, they have people typically coming into their place of business or they’re going out to their places, you know, to to someone’s home or somebody’s office just like that.

So it’s either or. Right.

There’s that face to face. So that affords the Main Street business sort of the opportunity to have his or her Shook’s on display in the office given away. We always say you create these little pointed point of sale displays where someone can just grab one, however. And I think you’ll appreciate this.

The number one way that mainstream business owners can leverage a short, helpful book. And it goes back to what you and I said way in the beginning, which is kind of riding the coattails of others. I called “OPC” Other People’s Customers.

So one of the best strategies is for a mainstream business owner. So I have a unfortunately just passed away. But a dentist who is a holistic dentist, meaning he didn’t use mercury. So his target market was someone who either had silver amalgams in their mouth. There was very afraid of, you know, the silver stuff in their mouth, which has mercury.

They wanted it out of their mouth. So he wrote a schook on that. And he went out and found about 20 strategic partners, which means 20 local businesses that would have those kind of people in it. Yoga studios, health food stores, chiropractor offices. Right. People that were little more health oriented. And he asked them if he could put a little display, give away the books for, you know, their patients or their customers.

And it got him new patients right away because, you know, they’re at the health food store. They’re the yoga studio, they see his schook interest them and had a good title. And that is a very smart strategy for the traditional bricks and mortar business owner.

Now, was he selling these books or was he just like you pick one up. You just grab one at the register.

Reuben, you know, for the couple dollars to print it up. He was, you know, a typical patient for him was worth, you know, three or four thousand dollars. So for him to give away a five dollar book, he was happy to do that all day long.

Yeah, I’m just trying to make sure people understand what the strategy was. So basically, write your shook and then you don’t necessarily have to, you can distribute it yourself and then run it in conjunction with AdWords and so on, but you can also go find a bunch of people who’d be happy to have a little display in their office because it adds value, and engagement for it for their customers, folks who are who are likely to be in your target market. Yes.

That’s just one of the strategy. I mean, there’s all kinds of strategies we’ve developed for the local business owner to figure out. I mean, there’s definitely online. We figure out automated ways. You know, you can download a partial PDF of it online and in exchange for a name and email. So, yeah, I mean, there’s the physical way with the physical book. And then there’s the digital way with the digital version. But, yeah, I mean, there’s a lot of opportunities forgetting that helpful information in the right hands.

You mentioned earlier that you’re a voracious reader. What books would you say other than that Dan Kennedy book have had the biggest impact on you that you would recommend that folks read?

Actually, there’s a blog post I think I listed like 70 books that I’ve recommended over the years on my blog. And that was a 10 year old blog post. But I’m looking at. My bookshelf, I mean, I love the old school stuff. So if you’re if you’re into really a student of marketing, which I consider myself, there’s a gentleman named John Caples. See APL. Yes. Who I have. I think every one of his books, including some first editions I was able to find.

So John, you know, passed away a while back. He wrote books on copywriting. He wrote books on advertising. I love it. And I just really enjoyed his books.

You know, more more recently. Gosh. Have you read the book? The One Thing.

Yes. Yeah. I mean, I love that book. Those guys are here in Austin.

Oh, really? Yeah. I mean, that’s that’s a great book. I should. I wish I had a headless wireless headset over my my my library here. Well, I didn’t mean to put you on the spot.

Yeah. Now what we’ll do is we’ll get a link to that blog post in the show. Notes for you.

Yeah. See, you’re big. It’s probably 10 years old. Most of them are older books. But again, I love you know, I love the old school stuff that worked way back when and tried to figure out how do you modernize it.

Well, Mike, thank you so much for taking the time to join me and share a glass of wine with me and share your story. And it just goes to show. Right. You can go from from being a marine engineer to an industrial engineer to a marketing guru and nine time author. And you never know where life’s going to take you.

Well, Reuben, I appreciate it. Thank you very much. Cheers.

Cheers.

Thanks for listening if you have a friend who would benefit from this episode. Please pass the word along. Have a friend who wouldn’t benefit. You haven’t talked to a while. Give them a call. iTunes reviews are great to get the word out and help me create the show that’s most useful to you. And if you’re frustrated with your sales and marketing process or lack thereof, check out Mimiran, the CRM for people who hate selling.

Until next time.

The Wine

Mike had some Barrel House Cabernet Sauvignon while I had a glass of Murphy Goode Pinot Noir.


Where to find Mike…

Main Street Author Mike Capuzzi

Other books mentioned:

listen-on-apple-podcasts-sales-for-nerds

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com, the easy CRM for people who are awesome at serving clients and would love some help getting more, but hate “selling”, (Mimiran also makes it easy to track and grow referrals). You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android, or Player.fm.

Want a way to make sales and marketing fun, without being “salesy”? Try Mimiran, the CRM for people who hate “selling”.


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051: Stacey Brown Randall on getting Referrals (without asking)

Stacey Brown Randall has a system for what so many of us rely on to get business: referrals.

She got there as many of us do, through failing after she started her first business, doing HR consulting. She got her clients through networking and “hustle” and had to work too hard. She’s land clients like KPMG, do the work, and then realize she was starting at the beginning again. That’s an OK way to start, but it’s not sustainable, and 4 years later, she was on the same “feast or famine” roller coaster.

I also got brave and did video for this episode, so you can watch that, if you prefer…

In addition, while Stacey knew her stuff and could deliver for clients, she wasn’t a salesperson, even with a corporate background in sales and marketing. Having conversations and turning them into clients wasn’t the problem, it was getting the conversations in the first place.

Looking back on the failed business, she realized that the only referral she got was after she had already shut down the business.

Researching how to get referrals, it all seemed so cheesy and unprofessional. She didn’t want to ask, pay, or be cheesy.

She realized she needed better referrals when she launched her coaching business and got over 100 referrals in the first year (as she has done every since). She had something like 30 referrals sources, some of whom sent double digit referrals. And she did this without any testimonials or case studies.

She also realized that she had to do some business development every day. She didn’t want to do the networking circuit, especially with a young family (tell me about it).

Then people started asking her how she got so many referrals (without asking) and she realized she had something to teach.

Referrals, Introductions, and Word-of-Mouth

What does a “referral” mean, and how is it different from an introduction and word-of-mouth? Referrals have both of these components:

  1. Involve a personal connection that transfers trust. (An introduction.)
  2. Identified need, in other words, the prospect is in buying mode. (Word-of-mouth)

5 Step Process for Referrals

Note– for this to work, you have to do great work which makes you referrable. (This is the subject of Stacey’s second book, Sticky Client Experiences, which she’s working on now.)

To prove this, you must have received a referral (preferably several).

Assuming those are true…

  1. Identify your referral sources. Do it once– it will take a lot of time, but you only have to do it once. (Easy if you have the right CRM.) Who refers you clients. Stacey says that this list is your business’s biggest asset. (I didn’t know Stacey was going to say this when I interviewed her– but you should check out the Referrals screen in the Mimiran CRM.) You’ll probably have a few reactions to this list.
    1. I want more referral sources.
    2. Who are the people I spend a lot of time with who don’t refer me anyone.
    3. Who are the people who refer me business that I don’t talk to enough.
  2. Every time you receive a referral, hand write a thank you note, that is very specific about why you are thanking them– mention which referral you are talking about– even if your handwriting is terrible (ahem!). Take care of your referral sources– they keep you from having to eat rubber chicken dinners!
  3. Have an annual plan for outreach to make your memorable and top-of-mind. Do 4-8 touches per year. This is NOT a newsletter or sending swag. (For example, Stacey realized that most of her referral sources were parents, so she recognized them on Mothers’ Day with a Wonder Woman water bottle.)
  4. Plant referral seeds. Use the right language. Your touch point details will dictate the language, but be authentic.
  5. Create a process that you can execute.

Note that referral sources don’t have to be mutual.

Also note that how many referrals you need will depend on what you sell and your capacity for bringing on clients. For example, if you need 30 new clients per year, and you’re getting 10 referrals from 6 sources, you probably want to double your referral sources. Look at your referrals over the past 3 years (if you have that data).

Never forget that the referral source isn’t doing it for you– they are doing it for their friend, so they can be the hero to them.

The Wine & Beer

I got to enjoy some Sojourn Pinot Noir from Sonoma California (getting a bit fancy with the pandemic and all), and Stacey had one of the 2 remaining Coors Lights in her house. (We could have gone on longer, because this is such a great topic, but I didn’t want her to run out of beer completely.)


Where to find Stacey…

listen-on-apple-podcasts-sales-for-nerds

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com, the easy CRM for people who are awesome at serving clients and would love some help getting more, but hate “selling”, (Mimiran also makes it easy to track and grow referrals). You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android, or Player.fm.


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044 John Livesay on Better Selling through Storytelling

John Livesay

John Livesay becomes the second guest to return to Sales for Nerds (catch his earlier episode on how to pitch here). Now he’s back to talk about “Better Selling through Storytelling”, which of course is the name of his new book.

In this episode, John goes into why storytelling is so important (it’s how we actually learn and communicate, not just by dumping facts on people), and how to do it effectively. In particular, John goes into:

Story Structure

Each story has a framework.

  • Exposition (the who, what, when, where, why)
  • The problem– if there’s no problem, there’s no drama
  • The solution
  • And the resolution– what life is like after the solution

How to Move up the “5 I’s” Ladder (whether in sales or in the dating world)

  • Invisible
  • Insignificant
  • Interesting
  • Intriguing
  • Irresistible

Note that most small business are stuck on the first 2 rungs.

The way to move up the ladder is to tell stories (you may have heard them called “case studies”) about one person so that other people can see themselves in the story. These stories will find their way to your buyers and pull them in if you do a good job.

Of course, this means picking your niche so that your story resonates with the other people in that niche. Don’t worry about going too narrow (this should sound familiar from Aaron Ross’s advice on nailing your niche). Your story will still resonate, just not as powerfully, with nearby niches. This is still better than telling a more generic story that applies to everyone, but resonates with no one.

To all the way to the top of the ladder, John (of course) tells the story of meeting Michael Phelps, and how his coach asked if he was willing to train on Sundays. When Michael said that we he was, the coach said, “great, now we have 52 more training sessions than the other swimmers.” This is John’s way of getting us to think about what we can do or offer that no one else can.

Weaving stories together

The buyer wants to see their story in your story about other buyers. They also need to know your story (although we typically focus too much on this part, and not enough on the others). So how do we weave these stories together?

First consider 3 unspoken questions a prospect has. Not: do I know, like, and trust you? But: do I trust, like, and know you? In other words, do I trust you enough to even listen to anything you have to say? Then, do I like you enough to want to listen? And finally, moving from the gut, to the heart, to the head, do I know you (and that you can do the job)?

If you can do that, you can use the case study to weave the stories together.

In this age of more and more information and technology, storytelling is more important than ever, but in John’s view, everyone can be a good storyteller.

Handling the negatives

Don’t get put off by objections– they are buying signals. And don’t forget that it’s not the job of your prospects, strangers, or even your kids to make you feel good. As John writes, “that’s why they call it self-esteem.”

Side note: some slides I often like to use:

The Wine (& Whisky)

John enjoys some Stag’s Leap Chardonnay.

Earlier that morning, I’d had a wisdom tooth out. They told me to avoid alcohol for a couple of days (not because of any health issues, but because it would hurt). I was tempted to just skip having a drink with John, but that didn’t seem right. I also didn’t want to open a bottle of wine if it was too painful to drink. So I decided to have a sip of whisky as a test. All good. So I had a glass of Caol Ila Islay 12 year old scotch.

(I was trying extra hard to concentrate and felt that I wasn’t doing a great job, but John said it was a good conversation.)

Where to find John…

Better Selling through storytelling cover

Get John’s book: Better Selling through Storytelling

listen-on-apple-podcasts-sales-for-nerds

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com (the easy CRM for people who are awesome at serving clients and would love some help getting more, but hate “selling”). You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android, or Player.fm.

Also, if you can get a free “fill in the blank” hero proposal template. Remember, a proposal is a story, not a brochure.

If you’ve ever struggled with a proposal, check out the “official” Sales for Nerds online course on Sales Proposals the Right Way (coupon link for listeners).


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042: Aaron Ross (again) on going From Impossible to Inevitable in Sales

Aaron Ross

Aaron Ross returns to Sales for Nerds after coming on in Episode 20. If you haven’t heard that, you might want to listen to that first (although you don’t have to). Aaron’s got 9 kids (and working on more– many of these are adopted, just FYI), so he’s a busy guy.

He started a company that failed because he didn’t know sales well enough, so he joined Salesforce to learn about sales.

He’s written 2 hugely influential books–

In this episode, Aaron talks about some of the most critical topics in the book (but you should really just read it).

Nail Your Niche

The biggest challenge people have getting a company off the ground is “nailing the niche”. If you don’t do this, you can waste a ton of money, time, and energy on sales and marketing efforts that don’t work. (If you need some help with your niche, see this Mad Libs Positioning Generator tool, and check out the one question you should ask if you’re considering narrowing your or broadening your niche.) We all have fear of missing out (FOMO), but if we don’t focus, it’s very hard to get traction.

How do you know if you have a good niche? If you can describe what you do, whether an elevator pitch or on twitter, do people understand what you do, and do the right people ask for more.

A lot of updates to the second edition involve the deluge of information. Aaron notes that buyers don’t necessarily know more than ever, they’re often more confused than ever.

If you’re in services, it’s easy to say that almost anyone could be in your market, so focus on the use cases where you add the most value.

The Current Information Environment

How do you deal with massive surge of content– you can’t just write a great blog post and get on the front page of Google. You have to create a signature piece of cornerstone content. What’s the one thing you want your company to be known for?

How Do You Grow the Value of Your Company

Another interesting case study from the book is how Bregal Sagemount — a private equity firm– triples the value of a company in 3 years. They mostly focus on growing sales faster– because that grows the value of the company most effectively. They invest in getting more leads, run better meetings, leading to more deals. (Sounds familiar, right?)

Unifying Sales and Marketing, while Specializing Roles

They try to get specialized roles for sales, especially better outbound prospecting, but they also get sales and marketing together as a “revenue team”. One of the best practices is to put marketing on a quota for sales-qualified leads or revenue, if the sales cycle is short enough (a quarter or less). So if you want to increase the value of your company, increasing sales growth and predictability is likely the way to go.

How do you define a qualified lead? This will vary from company to company and even by channel (an inbound lead is usually more qualified than an outbound lead, for example). A starting point for a qualified lead might be:

  • Do they have authority
  • Do they have a need
  • Do they want a next step

Note that in industry, a person with enough authority can make budget and timing happen.

Inbound and Outbound (Nets and Spears)

Inbound is great, outbound is great. And they go great together. Outbound lets you access parts of the market that don’t know you exist, and you can define your targets. If you’re going to do outbound, make sure one person owns the initiative. At least one person should be doing this full time for a few months. One example is Zuora, which had reps doing 30 calls and 60 emails per day. The better you know your customer, the better you’ve nailed your niche, the easier this outbound prospecting gets.

If you don’t know who to call, but you know which companies, you can call the company and ask nicely.

When someone asks what you do, pretend they asked you “how do you help your customers?” Use the first 3 seconds of the conversations to earn the next 60 seconds.

By all means, check out the book… (see links below)

Home

The Wine (and the Beer)

Aaron is enjoying some Stella Artois (“when I was in Belgium, this was the stuff they serve to tourists, but it’s tasty.”)

I enjoyed some Loveblock (that does not sound right, does it?) Sauvignon Blank from New Zealand (taste much better than the name). 😉

Where to find Aaron…

listen-on-apple-podcasts-sales-for-nerds

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com (the easy CRM for people who are awesome at serving clients and would love some help getting more, but hate “selling”). You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android, or Player.fm.

If you’ve ever struggled with a proposal, check out the “official” Sales for Nerds online course on Sales Proposals the Right Way (coupon link for listeners).


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038: Liston Witherill on growing your consulting practice beyond referrals

Liston got his start in environmental engineering, and picked up a lot of sales and marketing expertise along the way. He started freelancing as a digital marketer (“I knew enough to be dangerous”) and started an agency.

However, as marketing scales, it becomes less about individual people and more about numbers. He missed the one-on-one interaction, so he started his current venture, to help consultants scale their practices, making him a great fit for Sales for Nerds, since that’s really the whole mission of the podcast.

In this episode, learn:

  • About Liston’s life work: understanding how people make decisions and why.
  • The three types of consulting founders (and why all of them rely on sales to make money).
  • Which is why you need to invest in sales and marketing the same way you invest in your craft.
  • How you can be more proactive in generating referrals and word-of-mouth type sales, instead of waiting passively for that business to come to you.
  • How to use inbound and outbound strategies together, and why they are both important.
  • To quote @garyvee, “Businesses won’t survive unless they’re media companies.” (Or, as I wrote a couple years ago, every company is a media company.)
  • How to deal with your fear of entering the media world.
  • The one critical thing you need more of to get more clients.
  • Liston’s simple, attainable, really strong outbound sales strategy that you can start doing right now.
  • How to handle inbound inquiries better.
  • Much, much more…


The Wine Whisky

Liston brings some Kentucky bourbon– Ri(1) (pronounced Rye-one).

I was all out of Lagavulin, perhaps my favorite Scotch, but I did have some Lagavulin Distiller’s Edition laying around, which brings a bit more sherry flavor to the peaty intensity of Lagavulin. I think this is probably the most expensive bottle I’ve featured on the podcast, although on a per-serving basis, whisky is a pretty good value. 😉

And, if you’re in Portland and like whisk{e}y, Liston recommends the Multnomah Whisk{e}y Library, where just the Scotch section of the menu runs 20 pages.


Where to find Liston:

listen-on-apple-podcasts-sales-for-nerds

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com (the easy CRM for people who are awesome at serving clients but would love some help getting more). You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android, or Player.fm.

If you’ve ever struggled with a proposal, check out the “official” Sales for Nerds online course on Sales Proposals the Right Way (coupon link for listeners).


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035: Joy Beatty on Engineering the Sales Process

JoyBeattyJoy Beatty insists she is not a VP of Sales. Or Marketing. Even though she runs both teams for Seilevel, a requirements consulting firm that helps companies complete big software project successfully by actually having the right requirements in place. (For people who have never been involved in these big projects, this probably sounds crazy. For people who have, you know how important it is.)

How does she reconcile this: “I don’t see myself in sales. I see myself as a problem-solver.” One thing she can do is put a process in place. So that’s what she did, to great success. Learn how she did that, and how you can do the same thing, without being a world class sales expert, including

  • How she never wanted to run sales, and thought it was a terrible idea.
  • How she applied Sandler concepts (including some learned from Adam Boyd from Episode 3), not only to sales, but also to consulting, including the use of upfront contracts and making it safe to say “no.” (“I don’t feel like I’m doing sales, and I guess that’s why it’s working.”)
  • Why they don’t use quotas.
  • How to get opportunities unstuck.
  • How they defined the sales process (and how you can do it quickly if you’re not sure where to start).
  • How to get people to change and use the new process.
  • How Joy applies requirements consulting techniques to simplify sales reporting.
  • How to keep yourself accountable if you’re doing sales in addition to your “day job.”
  • Joy shares a tip she learned from me (!) about picking up the phone.

Here’s an example of working on the sales process:

Working on the sales process

 

 

The Wine

Aime Roquesante Rose 2017

Joy brought some Aimé Roquesante rosé. I am trying to broaden my horizons, but I have to admit I’m having some trouble here. If you’re a rosé fan, don’t let me deter you.

Where to find Joy:

Books by Joy:


Visual Models for Software Requirements, with Anthony Chen

 

 

Software Requirements, 3rd Edition with Karl Wiegers (Microsoft Press, like Code Complete).

 

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com (the easy CRM for people who are awesome at serving clients but would love some help getting more). listen-on-apple-podcasts-sales-for-nerds You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on AndroidPlayer.fm.


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032 Michael Zipursky on the Elite Consulting Mind

Michael Zipursky

Michael Zipursky didn’t mean to start consulting with giant Japanese corporations in his early 20s. It just happened. Hear how he pulled it off, and how he started multiple businesses, including his most recent venture helping consultants learn from his mistakes (this should sound familiar to long time listeners). Plus, learn to improve your results by improving your mindset, from the author The Elite Consulting Mind. In this episode, learn how:

  • Michael set himself up for success in his early 20s before he got on a plane for  Japan. (He found a niche for helping Japanese companies market to the North American market.)
  • Why he’s fascinated with languages and cultures.
  • Michael learned how to sell, sometimes the hard way.
    • Why people try to rush sales before relationships, and what to do instead (and a time Michael made a bad mistake in this area).
    • How many consultants make the opposite mistake, and never try to actually sell anything. (“No one buys consulting, unless someone makes an offer.”)
    • No one wants to buy what we’ve created. They want to buy a solution to their problem.
    • The only way to solve the problem is to understand it by asking questions.
    • When you understand the problem, you can charge a lot more.
  • What’s holding people back? Usually fear. Fear of making a mistake, the unknown, and being rejected.
    • The Catch-22 is that confidence and competence come from taking action, while people don’t take action because they’re afraid.
    • Taking action gives you the only feedback that really matters– from the market.
  • When we do “take action”, a lot of the things that make you feel productive, because you’re spending time on them, are not actually moving your business forward. Drop those things, and spend more time on the smaller fraction of things that actually create lots of value. We often do things that are easy or comfortable, rather than the things that are hard and actually productive. For example, spend time to meet with people, or, at a minimum pick up the phone and have a two way conversation. Don’t fall into the trap of sending the quick email.
    • Think you don’t have time? Follow the 80/20 rule. Document your process and pinpoint where you are really required. Offload repeated tasks (and your ego).
    • What you can’t outsource— marketing! You have to define your audience and your message.
  • Bonus tip: If you really want to build a thriving practice, stay in touch and make introductions when you *don’t* have the solution they need right now. This is a great way to build trust.

Books

EliteConsultingMindCoverThe Elite Consulting Mind: 16 Proven Mindsets to Attract More Clients, Increase Your Income and Achieve Meaningful Success, by Michael Zipursky.

 

Other books mentioned:

Other Tools:

 

The wine

We were on a Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir kick for this discussion, without any coordination. Michael was drinking some Patz & Hall 2014 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir (which is amazing, if you like Pinot like I do). I had the also delicious but less amazing (but much more affordable) Sean Minor 2014 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.

Patz and Hall

Sean Minor

 

 

bottle_0002_oban-14yo

Where to find Michael:

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com (the easy CRM for people who are awesome at serving clients but would love some help getting more).

listen-on-apple-podcasts-sales-for-nerds

You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on AndroidPlayer.fm.


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030 David A. Fields on Building an Irresistible Consulting Business

DavidAFields

David A. Fields shares his journey from a teenager trying to save up money to buy a computer, to becoming a consultant, to helping other consultants with the business of consulting. He recently wrote one of the most useful books on consulting I’ve read, The Irresistible Consultant’s Guide to Winning Clients: 6 Steps to Unlimited Clients & Financial Freedom. (Seriously, read this book, it’s not the typical 20 pages of content and 200 pages of filler.)

In this interview, David shares his story, and advice from his book, including:

  • The critical lesson he learned selling shoes: it’s not about the shoes, it’s about the feet. (This sound really simple, but it’s not easy to pull off in practice, even for some of the 8-figure firms David helps.)
  • How he “fell into” consulting, then got worried because his partner had to quit 4 weeks later, and how “on a lark” he started working with other consultants.
  • Why he loves consulting.
  • Why you don’t have to be super smart, innovative, or even better than the competition. (And why attempts at differentiation probably lose more business than anything else.)
  • You have to show the client that they can trust you to solve the problem without hurting them. (And what you have to do with your approach to build trust.)
  • Why consulting is bought, not sold.
  • How to perform “The Turn” from marketing and relationships (social norms) to an actual sales opportunity (market norms) with 7 simple words: “are you open to a separate conversation?”
  • How to structure and set fees, including using the “heart attack question” to bound the budget discussion.
  • Some encouragement on building a consulting practice: “This isn’t a business about doing things perfectly, it’s about doing the right things.”
  • Plus, David and Reuben get into details on structuring proposals.

A quick recap of the 6 Steps from David’s book:

  1. Think “right side up” (client first)
  2. Maximize impact with the prospects you have (the right people, the right problem, the right solution, at the right time, with the right fishing line) As consultants, “we don’t hunt, we fish”.
  3. Build visibility, with 2 of the 5 channels (speaking, writing, networking, trade associations, digital presence). However, 1 of the channels must be networking.
  4. Connect, connect, connect
  5. Become the obvious choice (“Discovery” is the key here, and will be the title of one of David’s upcoming books)
  6. Propose, negotiate, and close (including how to offer different options and how to handle price objections).

Books

Irrestible Consultants Guide to Winning Clients

The Irresistible Consultant’s Guide to Winning Clients: 6 Steps to Unlimited Clients & Financial Freedom

The wine

Reuben had some Marquis de Calon (Bordeaux, Saint Estephe 2010)  53% Cabernet sauvignon, 38% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot. Plum, red current, coffee, earth. Yum.

David does not drink alcohol (despite trips to Bordeaux and Italy), but here’s his recipe for irresistible iced chocolate:

1 tbs cacao powder*
1 tbs carob powder*
1 handful unsalted cashews*
1 frozen, ripe banana for sweetener
20 oz water

Blend all ingredients in a high-power blender (Vitamix or Blendtec) for 50 seconds on high. Pour over glass of ice cubes.

*David uses raw, organic ingredients, but it’s not required.

bottle_0002_oban-14yo

Where to find David:

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.

listen-on-apple-podcasts-sales-for-nerds

You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on AndroidPlayer.fm.


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029 Stella Orange on Authentic Marketing

Screen-Shot-2018-01-30-at-2.30.56-PM-768x857

Stella Orange talks about her strange path to marketing and copywriting via Japan, school teaching, bike riding, and writing copy to raise money for an arts nonprofit in Montana.

This includes the books she read to teach herself direct marketing, how she got her first clients (a great strategy for people who don’t have a sales engine when they start), and the mistakes business owners make in marketing.

[Extra props to Stella for taking time out of her vacation to record this episode, which I had to reschedule not once, but twice. This did leave her without whiskey, which was quite unfortunate. And then her dog threw up during the call, which she cleaned up on the fly. Thanks for being a trooper.]

Check out this episode to learn:

  • How working for a nonprofit and writing and performing plays gave Stella a great perspective on the performance of marketing. (Everyone has an interesting story about how they got into sales and marketing, and this might be one of the most interesting stories I’ve heard.)
  • How she turned her passion for writing into a “career”, despite being “unemployable”.
  • How she got her first clients, and how she taught herself sales. (And what her coach said to her when she said, “I’m a writer, I want my work to speak for itself.”)
  • Why she cried when she was starting her business, and why she cried after it took off.
  • Her stress over charging $450 for a 5 page website (she now charges much more, and has a great way of dealing with price objections).
  • “Old marketing”, focusing on pain, versus “new marketing”, focusing on desires, which can attract more qualified leads for many businesses. (Stella spent way too much time on unqualified leads early in her career.)
  • The biggest mistake people make in marketing (and of course, what you should do instead).

Books (if you don’t want to spend the money on the Amazon link, you can go to the public library like Stella did):

The wine whiskyOban 14 Year Old

Reuben had some Oban 14 year old Highland whisky. It’s got a little bit of sweetness to it, with hints of vanilla and caramel. Nice for people who don’t want all the peat, but also want a bit more flavor than the Macallan.

bottle_0002_oban-14yo

Stella wished, for just this one moment that she wasn’t on vacation, and was at home with her bottles, preferably the Yoichi Japanese whisky.Yoichi Single Malt

bottle_0002_oban-14yo

Where to find Stella:

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com. (Looking for a way to turn more visitors into leads, leads into conversations, conversations into clients, and stay in touch with the people who matter? Start a Mimiran free trial.)

listen-on-apple-podcasts-sales-for-nerds

You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on AndroidPlayer.fm.


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028 Maurice Cherry on Content Marketing

Maurice Cherry

Maurice had always enjoyed using computers, even as far back as elementary school. He intended to get a computer science degree, but found that his degree program wasn’t very practical. He switched gears a little and became a math major. Maurice was named as one of GDUSA’s “People to Watch” in 2018, and was named one of Atlanta’s “Power 30 Under 30″ in the field of Science and Technology by the Apex Society. Maurice was also selected as one of HP’s “50 Tech Tastemakers” in conjunction with Black Web 2.0, and was also selected by Atlanta Tribune as one of 2014’s Young Professionals. He recently won the Steven Heller Prize for Cultural Commentary from AIGA. He’s the host of the RevisionPath podcast, highlighting black designers and developers.

How did he accidentally end up in sales? He needed a job and telemarketers were hiring. It was humbling and soul crushing. He ended up getting fired.

Got a job working in design, based on a portfolio he had built up over time. This felt like his first real job, where he had a door with an office.

He worked at WebMD and AT&T, which sounds like it was a strange “Office Space” kind of dystopia, like a weird Black Mirror episode.

When he quite and started on his own, he had a rough time because selling was hard. He started working on a political campaign, in the aftermath of Obama’s successful use of the internet, which at the time seemed very cutting edge for the political world. (This was back in the day when MySpace was bigger than Facebook.) This led to business opportunities with other people in the city. He also joined forces with 2 other people, using this extended network to help land clients.

He ended up running his own agency for 9 years, then joined Fog Creek Software, after feeling like so much of the design world got commoditized. There, he specializes in creating content, and he’s got some important tips:

  • Build trust with your audience. People are so inundated that they often don’t even believe the truth, let alone marketing B.S.
  • Test. Test. Test. Take away the subjectivity. Even if you don’t have a huge audience.
  • Personalize.
  • How to “cheat” at content marketing– Maurice uses Google Keep to track notes. He’s had over 200 guests on his Revision Path podcast. When he sees a news item on one of his past guests, he logs it in Keep, so he can quickly put together a newsletter without having to dig for information. (Maurice uses RSS to keep on top of the news.)
  • Maurice uses Buffer to schedule social media posts in a queue. He likes to prepare content weeks to months in advance, and schedule it to go later. (Mental note– I need to get better at this.)
  • How do you know if content will be good? You may not. But ask people in surveys where they can criticize you anonymously. And stay in touch with your audience. Have a conversation. If you’re not hearing anything back from your audience, you’re not really having a conversation. Understand your audience– not only the topics that they care about, but the depth and length and language that they care about.

“Talk to your audience, get to know them.”

—-

Social Media Scheduling Apps:
Buffer
MeetEdgar (and check out the Sales for Nerds episode with MeetEdgar founder Laura Roeder.)
SocialBee

Google Keep

Black Mirror (Netflix TV series– prepare to be disturbed, especially one of the episodes that seems a little too much like one of the jobs Maurice mentioned in the interview)

Fog Creek Software (and check out the Sales for Nerds episode with Fog Creek CEO Anil Dash— really interesting technical insights into the sales process)

 

The wine


Venue Vineyards 2015 stage coach syrahVenge Vineyards 2015 Stagecoach Syrah
–currently sold out at the vineyard– I was lucky enough to grab some at a local event– it’s a bit fancier than the wine I usually drink. 😉 Yummy, but very rich– you may want to have it with some food. (Goes nicely with BBQ, according to my research.)

Where to find Maurice:

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.

listen-on-apple-podcasts-sales-for-nerds

You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on AndroidPlayer.fm.


Get alerted when there are new episodes (1x/month):