Matthew Pollard, The Rapid Growth Guy, spoke at our 2019 Grow Retreat. He blew us all away. His approach to increasing your sales fundamentally shifted my approach to sales in my business, and with every client I had the pleasure of working with since.
Recently, I had the chance to catch up with him again and got him to share some of the same process-shifting insights he unveiled at The Grow Retreat.
Q1: What was it like to go from knowing no one in Austin, having moved there from Australia, to becoming one of the most well-networked people in the city in a matter of months?
One of the things that people really struggle with when they start a new business or when they move to a new area is “how do I get people to know who I am?” And then “how do I get people to know me for what I want them to know about me?”
More often than not, especially if you’re starting a new business, you go to a networking event and feel like you’re shoving what you do down people’s throats. People don’t want that. It feels uncomfortable to you, and then those people don't introduce you to other people because it was uncomfortable. So it's kind of this catch 22, where you need money but you also don't want to do that horrible “hustle” thing.
When I moved to the United States, I had to start from scratch. I’d built five multimillion dollar businesses from the ground up before I was 30, but that meant nothing to anyone in the US because it was in this little place called Australia on the other side of the world. No one knew who Matthew Pollard was.
But I managed to become one of the most networked people in Austin within a year (Despite being introverted), and I’m now one of the “top 15 Global Gurus” in the world of sales just by taking a different approach to how I introduced myself and how I talked about what I did.
Most people think their job is to go into a networking room and just grind it out. Go to hundreds of events and talk to tons of people. As an introvert myself, that's the last thing that I wanna do. So, I had to find a simpler and easier way to do all this.
When I started in sales, I was this introverted kid who didn't know what I wanted to do with my life and I’d lost my job just before Christmas. In Australia you can't get a job at that time, we're on summer break and Christmas break at the same time.
Literally the only thing people are hiring are commission-only sales people because they may as well throw mud against the wall and see what sticks!
Sounds fun, right?
Until you're the mud. I knocked on 93 doors before I got my first sale.
When most of us are struggling in sales, we either grind it out, or run away or quit. When we own our own business, we tend to go into that grind-it-out mode and instead, I took a step back and I just said “What if sales was a system?”
So I learned that system by watching YouTube videos and getting better every day, and less than six weeks later my boss said I was the number one sales person in the company.
Sales was something that I learned, but I learned I can't do those bulldog techniques or hard closes. It’s not my style.
So I had to find a way that had a natural step by step process that just led to a sale without even having to ask for the close, and that’s what came out in my book, The Introverts Edge. That book has had a huge number of endorsements and is listed as the number two ever book for introverts and it works because it heavily focuses on the act of storytelling and having a strong set of stories, asking great questions, and most importantly following a seven step process.
Q2: You’ve made your mark as far as being the Sales Guy for introverts and creating Rapid Growth. What are some fun stories where you’ve worked with people who were struggling and got them from “ugh” to “wow!”?”
One of the things that I talk about a lot in my book is that you can’t start by selling to everybody in your business.
It sounds counterintuitive, but you actually have to go the opposite way and niche down. That’s not to say that if someone calls you who is outside of your niche that you’ll turn them down, but all your marketing and networking needs to be focused on making one demographic see you as the only logical choice.
In truth, if you don't help somebody see you as the only logical choice they'll go with someone who has more experience, better economies of scale, better pricing, or a big franchise that everybody knows. The thing you've got to understand, is speaking to less people actually makes it easier to sell.
The stories and questions you ask make it simple for people to go, “Oh, he/she gets my market. He/she’s the obvious choice for me!”
In networking you get about 30 seconds to explain what you do. Online you get half a second.
So how do you do that simply?
You’ve got to stop defining yourself by your functional skill: you’re commoditizing yourself by doing that.
What I always suggest is turning yourself into one-of-a-kind category. Create your own message that inspires people to want to know more.
I worked with a marketing company just over a year ago. The owner came to me and said “I'm just a marketer. I'm just like everybody else.”
She had worked with four clients for almost a decade, making about $120,000 a year. While she did this, her husband watched the kids and she started to treat it like a job. Unluckily, in two months she lost three of those clients: one got bought out, one went broke, and the other one decided to insource to save money.
She went from making $10,000/month to $2,500/month.
She started to freak out about getting clients and fell into the world of commoditization and digital footprints. She was competing with everybody else and nobody wanted to sign up for a $2,500/month agreement.
They wanted to sign up for little piecemeal things, and she was discounting the price to get the new client. She was hustling to get new clients constantly and it became a nightmare because she was exhausted, stressed, and had no locked income.
What we did was we took a step back and said, “let's look at how we can avoid the price battle all together.” I started to look at all the clients she'd worked with, realized that even though she didn't really talk about it much, she had this passion for health technology companies.
So I asked, “Does it annoy you every day that Coca Cola and Red Bull steal all the marketing space and promise health benefits, even though these life saving or life bettering technologies like you use aren’t making it through that noise?”
Of course, she said yes. So I asked if she liked to research ways to make it through all the noise to help health tech companies get their technology in front of people who need it most, and the answer was another “Yes, that would be great.”
So I said, “Why don't we call you The Mission Maven? Maven for of love research and simplifying it for people. And Mission because you help mission-based health technology companies.”
That was how we niched down to health technology companies.
So she started putting that message out on LinkedIn, cold calling people, networking, all the things that you're supposed to do. But she introduced herself as the Mission Maven working exclusively with health tech companies.
We introduced this product where instead of selling something for $2,500/month, we introduced what I call a Trojan Horse Package where she sells something for $3,500.
In this product, she audits a Health Technology Client on who their avatar (Target Market) is, and then helps them work out whether or not the content that they're putting out there actually speaks to that avatar. If not, she helps them realize they're not writing to that audience and helps them work out what their content should be and then creates the distribution plan. At the end, she creates a scope of work and a request for a pricing document for them to be able to hire someone else.
The first time she presented that to someone, she got interrupted (which we'd planned) and the person asked if she could do it. She responded with, “Normally we just come in as an external service to provide you advice so that we're impartial. However, we do have a small group of people who work in-house so we can stay in the best at what we do. The price for working with us one on one is $10,000/month with a minimum commitment of 12 months.”
The client immediately gave the green light to go ahead with it.
The second time, she wasn’t interrupted but she said “Hey, we love working with you, so we'd love to do this $10,000 a month.” And the client said yes.
Less than six months later, she had four of these clients. Less than 12 months later, a big digital agency bought her out because she was getting access to all these health tech companies and they had all these other things that they could sell.
She went through only making $2,500/month with a struggling business and a husband looking at going back to work, to nearly a half a million dollar business being bought from her in less than six months.
That's the power of having a strong message.
Q3: Story-selling is transformative for every sales person once they truly embrace well-told stories in their sales process. What makes story-selling so impactful?
If a story is told well, it short-circuits the logical brain and you speak directly to the emotional brain which interprets stories. The logical brain can’t interpret stories, and that’s the part of the brain that sits there going “I don’t know if that will work for me.”
The emotional side of the brain says “It’s storytime!” and just listens.
They’re hugely powerful because you assume all the details are factual and just listen to the moral. If the moral is “I’ve worked with customers just like you and gotten amazing results”, it can have an amazing impact.
It shows you understand them better than they understand themselves.
But I work with some really large organizations, (like billion dollar technology/finance companies.) and people often get up and say they tell great stories. But most people’s story morals are “A customer wanted this, so we gave it to them.”
That doesn't show that you understand them.It just shows that you understand the implementation.
A study out of Princeton talks about another aspect of stories relating to our brains. When you tell a story, the reticular systems of our brain synchronize. For introverts, that creates artificial rapport that we can leverage into real rapport. Further, people remember 22 times more information when embedded into a story.
People keep looking at sales and going “I've got to hustle, I've got to use bulldog techniques.” But in truth, if you do it right, it should be just a natural step by step process that leads to a sale. It should be comfortable.
If you're speaking to the right niche, with the right message, and you've got the right packaging, and pricing that's designed to stimulate purchasing behavior, it should just be an easy decision for potential clients.
If people don’t buy from you, they have to go deal with more sales people. That’s the last thing they want to do.
People want to make a decision today, but they feel uncomfortable and no one gets them over the hurdles.
If your product or service truly benefits the client (if it doesn't, then sell something else), then you owe them the service of getting them over their mental blocks with purchasing and helping them to make a decision quickly. Because if you don't, somebody else might work with them that provides them a poor quality of service, with better salespeople.
At this point, I had to jump in and point out that what Matthew is hitting on here has always hit me hard between the eyes with sales.
If someone is going to buy, they will buy from you or someone else. If they don’t buy from you, they may end up with worse quality goods or a scammer. In my line of work, I know people who will sell you a $10,000 program, run your card, and disappear.
And you know what? Those are the people who inspire me to improve my sales skills and continue to grow. We can’t let people like scammers survive in our industries. We have an obligation to make sure people are taken care of, and that means we have to improve our sales skills.
Matthew had a bit more to say on this subject when I agreed with him…
That’s why I look at partnering with people like yourself. We’ve had a long history, and I see how much value you give people. At the Grow Retreat I saw how different your event was. It is such a well-run event and although ticket sales are important for the survival of any event, that seems to be the least thing on your mind. It’s all about providing amazing content to help amazing small business owners survive.
Unfortunately, the survival rate of small business tends to be heavily weighted to the hardcore salespeople. Not the people that have products and services that benefit their clients. So what I really focus on (and what I know you do as well) is helping the small businesses that have amazing products or services. Helping them build a great six figure or seven figure business doing what they love with a product or service that truly helps their customers in a really effective way.
It’s about allowing them to get access to our resources that we've spent a lifetime putting together.
That is one of the greatest compliments I’ve ever been paid.
The highest form of praise for me is that people like Matthew Pollard and Mike Michalowicz want to do more work with me.
The awesome thing is that Matthew wants to continue to work with me to help people, so we are putting together an hour long, free webinar to break down some more of this stuff in greater detail. If you’re interested in getting access to that, shoot me an email here and we’ll make sure you get the link!
If you’re interested in working with Matthew and myself on taking your own business to “Wow!”, check out the Disruptive Business Accelerator! It’s a guaranteed ROI program that we’ve designed together to take your business out of the 97% of business owners who never break $250K Revenue.
About the Author:
Stephanie Scheller is a TED speaker, a two-time best-selling author and the founder of Grow Disrupt: a San Antonio based company dedicated to disrupting the way the world does business through training. In just under a decade, Stephanie has been behind the scenes with nearly 2500 small businesses. She has worked in groups and one-on-one to create total business transformation & help business owners live the life they got into business to create!