Hi, welcome back to another episode of the Strong for Performance podcast. I’m your host, Meredith Bell, and I am so excited to have with me today Paul McManus. Welcome, Paul.
Hey, Meredith, how you doing? It’s great to be on your show.
I am so excited to have you here, because Paul and I have done business together. I’ve been a client of his. He is the CEO and co-founder of the More Clients More Fun program. I was a member of that for a number of years, benefited from it greatly. He worked with hundreds of coaches and consultants in that particular program. One of the things I always admired, is Paul is more of a guide than a guru. He is constantly experimenting with new approaches, new things, and sharing how they work. He is out in the trenches every day, doing this work to attract his ideal clients. He has been working with a range of people, including financial advisors, CPAs, and business coaches. He is going to share with us today some really effective strategies that help you attract clients that you really want to work with, with less effort than perhaps you’ve been having to put forth in the past.
In fact, one of the things, Paul, that I believe you have done consistently, is really built up a large number of highly qualified leads. We’re going to talk more about that, but first I want you to spend just a couple of minutes telling us about your journey. How did you get to where you are today?
Thank you. More Clients More Fun started about four years ago, and it started when I left my former company, which was a family-owned multi-million-dollar office products company that, interestingly enough, had been in my family for three generations. I was supposed to continue it, but in 2004, I saw the writing on the wall and I decided to completely switch paths. I became essentially a business coach myself in 2015. At that time, I was going through a program called Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port. I got certified, and immediately I was thinking, “How do I make it … How do I stand out? How do I stand out in this very crowded, noisy world, with essentially no coaching experience?” I had other types of experience, but at that time … It was February 2015, and I decided, “Okay, you know what? I’m going to just focus on a little niche called LinkedIn. I’m going to become the Book Yourself Solid business coach that masters LinkedIn, and helps people use LinkedIn as a business development platform.
I joke that, at that time, I consider that to be small thinking, meaning that I didn’t have the confidence to go out in the bigger … to show up in a bigger way. But it actually proved, I think, to be very smart thinking, because having that level of dedication and focus to one thing, I quickly built a company, a following. In the past four years now, I guess, had the opportunity to work with more than 300 clients.
That’s great. What you found, if I remember correctly, is that trying to acquire clients one at a time was not the best use of your time. What were you doing that was not working so well, and what did you pivot to instead?
Sure. I think that’s interesting as well, because most people come to me, at least as a starting place, for “lead generation.” Typically, lead generation in most people’s minds consists of going after individual clients one at a time. In my experience, I found while that has a place, it’s a very ineffective, very inefficient way to build your business. Client acquisition is probably the hardest place that most coaches or consultants or financial advisors face in terms of growing their business.
In the past two, three years, what I’ve discovered is that practically 90% of my clients … They all came to me, not through that one to one lead acquisition, but they all came to me from different groups. Meaning that, working with coaches for example, we developed a number of executive coaches who are part of Marshall Goldsmith’s Stakeholder Centered Coaching. We developed a number of business coaches that are part of the Brian Tracy’s Focal Point. Once we had a couple in our program, word just seemed to spread, and so we got a couple more. Once we noticed that what was most effective for us was not to go out into the marketplace and say that we help coaches or consultants, it was to be very granular, very specific, and go deeper into attracting more and more clients that belonged to those organizations.
At the end of the day, we all are in saturated markets, meaning that if I said, “Hey, I do LinkedIn lead generation!” It’s like, “Yeah, you and 100 other people. What makes you unique? What makes you special?” From a client’s point of view, typically the question they have is, “Who, like me, like the person I identify as at a very granular level, have you helped? If I trust them, that they got results, I believe that you can help me too. But if you don’t have someone that I very strongly identify with, then it’s like you start sounding like everybody else.”
That is such a key point, because … As I was listening to you talk, I was thinking. People are asking themselves, when they hear about what you do, they’re asking, “Yeah, but can you help me? What proof do you have that you can help me?” And the closest answer to that is somebody like you. Somebody who’s in a similar circumstance. So, I just love that.
If I can jump in for a second, it’s amazing how granular you get. For example, if I say “I help people,” That connects with nobody. If I say “I help coaches,” it gets about 20% there. But to really make it efficient, I have to be able to say “I help coaches in Stakeholder Centered Coaching. I help coaches in Focal Point. I help advisors that belong to this organization.” Once you can connect those dots, then it just becomes … it flips from being hard to easy.
That’s such a great point. And the idea is, the words you choose are really important. How can you accelerate the way that you … convince isn’t really the word I want, but convey to people that “I’m your guy,” or “I’m your gal.” With the way you position yourself, and the people you’ve worked with in the past, and the fact that you speak their language when you are promoting yourself.
I just … literally just 30 minutes ago, I got off of a webinar, and it was to a group of financial advisors. The reason it was awesome was nothing that I said. It was because I had one of my clients, who also belongs to this group, essentially co-present on this webinar. I already know this going into it, but it was just reaffirmed during it, is that people come for the subject, which is lead generation on LinkedIn, but they’re much more interested in hearing about it from my client’s point of view. It’s much more credible, it’s much more believable. It gives people that trust and that hope, “If they can do it and they’re like me, I can do it as well.”
Boy, you just hit on something that I think we too often overlook, and that is the doubt that the person has that “This could work for me.” I think you have just been brilliant at establishing these key individuals in the markets you want to reach, and utilizing them with, of course, their enthusiastic permission, to serve as that kind of social proof for you. Why don’t you describe the one person that you started with in that financial services industry that really caused everything to take off for you? It’s such a powerful lesson.
Yeah, his name is Shane. Shane Walls. He joined our More Clients More Fun program. It was a group coaching program really targeted toward coaches and consultants. He’s a financial advisor, and at some point after he joined our group coaching program, he reached out to me and asked if we could work one to one. At first, I was like, “No. Financial advisors, I don’t know anything about them, I don’t know who this person is, really.” I took the call, just kind of not really intending to do anything. But that relationship, that one relationship has made all the difference in my business the past three years.
He became a private client of mine, and he is a person who credits me with helping him go from $100,000 of income, which is great, to over a couple million dollars of income in the matter of a couple years. I developed a great relationship with him, just very close. At some point, he came to me and said that the producer group that he belonged to was asking about what his secret sauce was. How was he doing what he was doing? He mentioned my name, and they invited me first to speak to a group of a couple hundred of their members who are all very top-level financial advisors and life insurance agents, and then from there it just took off.
But the key there is that, when I prepared to speak to this group, I thought about what would have the most impact. What is my goal? And my only goal in speaking was to build business. My goal wasn’t to go up there and feel good about speaking, my goal wasn’t to do anything like that. My goal was, “What can I do from this opportunity to maximize people’s desire to work with me after it?” What I decided to do was that I had about a 20-30 minute speaking slot, and there was nothing that I could say that would be as impactful as having Shane up there on stage with me, and essentially telling from his point of view, his story, his success. I could frame it, I could set it up, I could do all those things, but what people are going to react most positively to is him.
So we did that, and it was amazing. There was a line of people that were waiting to talk to me afterwards. It went from having to try and go to solicit business to just kind of sitting back and … That was the first training that I really experientially felt this, “Oh my goodness, what just happened? How did I reverse that, from me chasing people to me putting up barriers and roadblocks, and being the one to decide who gets to come in the door?” If you will.
I think there’s such an important lesson in there for folks who are listening to this. When they think about building their own business, who do you have as a client that you might partner with to make a presentation at a professional meeting, where their story would lend instant credibility to you? And, as Paul just said, not having to chase or pursue other people, but having others come up and say, “Hey, can you do that for me?” It’s a whole different world.
Then you took it to another level when you presented … I think it, was it the same group? You presented later, maybe six months later? Tell us more about that particular experience.
Absolutely. It was the same group, it’s called First Financial Resources. The first one was one of their regional meetings, the second one was their annual meeting, where they had pretty much all of their people there. It was so funny, because at some point I was going to reach out to them and ask if I could potentially be a speaker, and when I did that, they’re like, “Oh, we’ve already planned on inviting you. Don’t worry about it, you’re in.” Reputation support, right? They invited me to come speak to their annual meeting. They had their big stage, where they have highly paid speakers. They had me and a number of other people in breakout sessions, and to me what’s more valuable is the breakout sessions.
I like to joke that I got so … One of the paid speakers there was Carl Rove], who people might know from the political world. I think he got paid like %25,000. But I actually walked out of there with more money in my pocket than Carl Rove did. The reason I did that, is that I had two breakout sessions, standing room only, and essentially it was both of them were … I think it was about a 60-minute slot to essentially talk about LinkedIn. But once again, I knew that there was nothing that I could say or do myself that would turn people into clients. It’s information, people hear different information. The one thing that would really create an opportunity for me, similar to what I had created before, was to essentially do the same thing.
At this point, though, I had two clients. One was Shane, another, his name was Mark Larrabee. He was also a member of this group. So very intentionally, my hour presentation was essentially … I like to think of it as an infomercial, and I had Shane on one side and I had Mark on another side, and of course I framed it and asked questions, but essentially it was both of them telling the story from their perspective. It was so funny that while Mark was on stage, he was literally getting leads and appointments while he was on stage. It was like, “Oh, another appointment!”
The other thing that was interesting was that-
Talk about real time proof!
Oh, it was incredible. It was probably the highlight of my marketing life. The other thing was, I already knew in advance based on my past experience, that probably everybody in there, or most everybody in there that attended, would want to have a conversation about my services. I went in thinking, “Okay, it’s not about having new conversations with everybody, it’s how can I have conversations with just the 10 or 20% that are really serious?” I don’t want to talk to 100 people, I want to talk to 10 or 20 that are really willing to invest. So I did this for the first time, but it was so impactful is that … I came up with the idea that at the end of the call to action was that, if they wanted to talk to me about my processes and how I might be able to help them, was I had an application, and I even said, “Okay, it’s a $1,000 deposit.”
These are seasoned A-type personality salespeople, and I remember that one person in the audience, or maybe a couple, they raised their hand like, “So you’re telling us that, in order to speak to you, it’s $1,000?” And I’m just like, I said, “Reality is that our time’s all important, so I want to make sure that we can do it that way.” It was so funny, because even the person that said that, he ended up giving me the $1,000 dollar deposit. It was all refundable if it didn’t go anywhere, but I think I walked about $15,000 deposits. Which inverses the 100 conversations, but the 15, about 80% of those people decided to move on. Or decided to continue with me.
It was incredible, from being a person who had just hung out a shingle, if you will, a few years earlier. Scared about how to make a difference, scared about how to market, scared about what to do, to be in this position where I’m literally turning people away.
That is such an amazing story, because it takes a lot of courage and confidence to say that to … well, to do it, and prepare in advance that, “I’ve got this application, and it says right here you’ve got to put a deposit down.” But it communicates so many important things to them. That you are a busy person, and you don’t have time to talk to every tire kicker that there might be, so you have put up these requirements, or set in place criteria, that people have to meet. I think that is so smart, because we all only have so much time. If we invest our time in people that aren’t serious, then that takes away from time we could be spending with other people that really could … That are serious about benefiting from our services. To me, it’s really being wise about “How can I most quickly get to the people that really are interested in seriously working with me, and getting the results that I can help them achieve?” I just love the approach that you took.
It also has the added benefit, I discovered, that you can charge way more than you otherwise would. Psychology, and I’m always interested in what works, and why it works, and etc. When someone’s willing to give you $1,000 for that initial consultation, we’ll call it … sales conversation, I’ll call it as well … they’re very serious. If you have the right audience that can afford certain things, you can charge the maximum, and they say yes. To me, it’s all built on the psychology, it’s that when they’re coming through that door, not only are they not tire kickers, but they’re deadly serious about being interested in what you can do for them. They’ve already taken those steps, so when you talk about pricing at some point, it’s like “It’s a lot, but let’s do it.”
So, you get far less price resistance or other pushback that you might have had if you had not put those other elements in place.
Right after the event, I charged something that was about four times what I had charged the year before and got practically no price resistance.
I just love what you’re saying, because too often we tell ourselves stories about what someone would pay. The other element, though, that I’m taking from this that I think is really important for listeners, is choosing the right market. If you are wanting to work with more of these folks that won’t have the price resistance, or try to get you to give away things, you have to have the right position. You can’t be trying to speak to a group of, say, startup business owners that are strapped for cash, have no sense of where the money could possibly come from, versus those who are already successful like your clients are. They simply want to kick it up to a whole different level. Do I have that right?
You do, and there’s a number of things that you said that I want to go a little bit deeper in. First is the target market. I know there’s a lot of .. people always talk about the target market, and going general versus getting specific, and who should I work with? For me, it was by complete accident. Like I said, I started thinking, “Okay, I’m going to work with coaches and consultants,” and the whole financial advisory/insurance business market found me. I didn’t look for them, they found me, and then once I discovered the opportunity there, then I went full gong-ho into it. That’s one thing.
Then there was something else…In any market, then, I think there’s the … It’s the 80-20 rule, if you want to call it that, but there’s always … Think of it as a pyramid. In any market, there’s people that are at the top 5%, then next 15%, and then the 80%. Even, say, in the financial services life insurance industry, I would not be able to sell at those investment points or price points to just the general market. It’s very intentionally going to the top of the market, to the people that are already very successful, and they’re looking to become even more successful. At the end of the day, they can afford your services if they believe that you can help them.
Experiencing that, all of that, led me to very intentionally work on simply duplicating that opportunity. For example, what I mean by that is that I found my key client Shane, how do I duplicate him? How do I get more clients like him? But at the next level up, what I discovered was that the producer group that he belonged to, called FFR, First Financial Resources … I saw that that was such an amazing place to get a constant inflow of new clients from, so then the question became “How do I duplicate FFR? If I want to be able to not have to chase, if I want to be able to simply sit back, have business come to me, have my schedule filled up as much as I want so that I can then continue to say ‘I’m booked up, I can’t work with you until sometime down the road’, or simply raise my price again, how do I create more opportunities like FFR?”
On a very tactical level, as you and I have talked about, I found that podcasting is one of the best ways to do that. Having your own podcast like you have, like I do, called the Million Dollar Producer Show, is by far the best way I’ve discovered so far to be able to have a platform that you can invite those very specific people to, build that relationship, and from there create those opportunities for yourself.
That’s great, yes. Talk a little bit about some of the folks you’ve invited to your podcast, and what that’s meant in terms of business opportunities for you after that.
Currently, I think I have about six or seven episodes in my podcast, and they do so well for me that I got lazy for a little bit, although now I’m starting to focus on it again. It started with interviewing my key clients, such as Shane. His story is so powerful that it’s like, “I want everybody to hear that.” I interviewed him, I interviewed Mark, I interviewed the leadership of First Financial Resources. Up until now, I’ve used it primarily as what I would call a conversion tool. For example, if somebody wants to talk to me, or sees me out there somewhere and wants to have a sales conversation, I always want to send them … and it’s their option if they watch it, but I always want to seed the conversation beforehand by sending them at least that interview with Shane. I know in terms of services I offer, that that is the key result that they want.
I much prefer to have them come to the conversation with me having already watched that podcast episode. It’s proven to be an amazing conversion tool. It takes completely “cold prospects” that don’t know anything about me or have just heard about me, to suddenly becoming very, very interested in working with me. And also changing the dynamic of the relationship, where it’s not me trying to chase them, if you will, but it’s really me sending that and them trying to figure out how they can work with me, which is amazing.
What you’re describing there to me, with Shane and some of the others like him, are case studies. They’re video case studies. I think of so many of the larger corporate organizations that put out these elaborate, beautifully printed case study. But nothing comes to life like a real person talking into a camera and really emoting, able to express what this meant to them for their lives, for their businesses, for their families. You can’t capture that, I don’t think, on paper as well as with a video.
I think that’s such a great approach in looking at, “How do I convert people?” , as you say, give them some homework to look at in advance of a conversation with you, so they understand here’s what’s possible for you, and then you can frame questions based on … They can even frame questions for you based on what they took from that interview. I think whether someone launches an official podcast or not, doing these video interviews can be an excellent way of elevating someone, because then they have this video that they can use for whatever purpose they would like to.
Totally. That’s a good point there, is that … I’m someone that’s very good at just simplifying things, and so I personally resisted having an official podcast for a long time. For a couple years now, I simply used very simple tools like Zoom, upload to a free YouTube account, share on LinkedIn. Three steps. And it was just when I saw those opportunities, “Okay, let’s record. Okay, I got some content.” Now, I’m starting to go down the track of having the website and being on all the different podcast channels, and kind of taking it to the next level. But I started just very simply. What are those stories that I want to get, and a very simple method of doing it?
What I’m doing now, which I think will be of interest to your audience, is … How do you really attract those whales? And by whale, I mean those big, huge opportunities. How do you build those relationships with them? Podcasting is a great way to do it, but there’s also some psychology that I think people should understand. One is, just like in sales, people want to buy from people who people similar to them have experienced good results. I think the same thing is true with podcasting. If I’m someone that’s maybe “high status” or decision maker, and I have a lot … I have to think about what podcast to be on. One, there has to be some interest for me to be on it, personally, or organizationally. But the second key question that they’re going to ask before they say yes to being on your podcast is, “Who else like me has been on this podcast?” If they see people like them, that they identify with, then getting them to say yes is pretty simple.
Very strategically, when I interviewed the leadership at this producer group, it was very strategically for that point. I wanted to capture that, so then I could go to other similar groups and be like, “Hey, so and so just like you …” I don’t quite say that that way, but I demonstrate that. “It’s been on my podcast, and I’d love to have you on as well.” And it’s like “Sure, why not? Let’s do it.” So instant credibility in a market that two or three years ago I knew nothing about.
That is a really important point, to think strategically about who I might speak to, because if I’m able to interview them, the way I can approach other people and get easy yeses from them because of this one I had … I had a similar thing. I’ve got someone very well respected in the coaching industry who’s been on my podcast and approaching people who were coached by him makes it very easy to have them on as a guest. It’s like, “Wow, if he’s done it, then sure. I’ll do it, too.”
Another area that I wanted to bring up related to guests, is someone who has recently published a book, who has status in the industry you want to get into, is a wonderful person to invite to a podcast. They typically say yes to almost any invitation, because of their desire to get their book out to the world, to as many people as possible. If you are interested in doing a podcast or doing an interview, asking to speak to someone who has published a book is a great way to start thinking about “Who might I want to talk to?”
I think, to your point, it’s surprisingly easy to get them to say yes, especially when they’ve published a book or they are in the process of publishing a book, because they’re interested in that promotional aspect. I would also add, though, that it’s important to think through who your guests are from the perspective of “Ultimately, how do I make money off of this?” And what I mean by that, is if you’re doing this fundamentally as a business development exercise, the question becomes “If I interview this person, what then?”
I’ve found, for me, that the ideal guest for me are these organizations called FMOs, that … Essentially, there’s about 300 of them throughout the country, the United States, and all of my target clients belong to them. I’m just going after interviewing them, with the idea being that I build a relationship with them, they invite me in to do a speaking or webinar or what have you, and now I’m positioned very well in front of their audience. In terms of interviewing, say, a New York Times bestselling author that’s in the industry, there’s some value to it, but for myself I still don’t know quite “Okay, if I do that, then there’d be positioning a little bit. I don’t quite know how to translate that into the next step.”
Well, for me, it would be … If it’s someone who would be respected or admired by other people that I want to invite.
Oh, okay, perfect.
That whole … Again, getting the easy yes. I’ve interviewed this person and that person. There’s a prestige, there’s celebrity by association, that I think we can’t underestimate in terms of the value. Also, I think what I have found too, is people who are naturally givers. When you invite them to be on your podcast, and you elevate them in the way that you interact with them and draw out their genius, then they are eager to help you. I’ve had one guest who is not … doesn’t meet the description you just laid out, and yet she has these amazing contacts in this one industry that I am really eager to work in. She’s offered to make all these introductions. You don’t always know. You want to be open.
I’m saying that not just for somebody that might have a podcast, but for any conversation you’re going to have. Be open to the ideas of possibilities, while at the same time being discriminating to some degree. In other words, having some criteria, right? Because you’ve done a really good job of establishing criteria of who you want to schedule conversations with.
Totally. And you bring up a great example of how … two things. One is using it as that … further enhancing your own credibility by authority by association, so definitely. Then also, I like what you said, unexpectedly or maybe expectedly, one of your recent guests just turned into a goldmine of opportunity. So I guess, for me, the bottom line is that it’s doing something like podcasting with the idea of, from a business development standpoint, what is the purpose? What is the next step? How am I monetizing it? That doesn’t mean that you don’t enjoy the conversations, it doesn’t mean that you don’t value the people. It just means that, if I’m fundamentally doing this as a business development tool, what’s the next step?
A great point. And you know, this kind of brings us full circle as we’re winding down here, back to your example with Shane, because when he first wanted to speak to you and become a one-on-one client, you really weren’t interested in that initially. Because you opened yourself up to the possibilities, that opened up a whole new world for you. I just think we have to keep our minds and our eyes open to the opportunities that are in front of us, and not be too quick to say “No. That doesn’t fit my rigid criteria.” I think there’s a balance between establishing elements or criteria that we want to use to help us decide whether to say yes or no to an opportunity, but then I think we have to trust our intuition.
That’s it. I think that’s it. Trust your intuition.
Because if we really learn to pay attention to that, we’re going to know in our gut if this is really a good direction to go or not. In fact, I just heard Kyle Sees on an interview say that if he says yes to an opportunity, he knows in two seconds if it was right, because he feels it in his gut. He said, “If I have to go make a pros and cons list, it’s a no, because I’m having to do too much analysis of it.” I thought that was pretty good.
It’s like at this point, when you asked me to be a guest, I said yes. That was just my gut, is that I know the more time I spend with Meredith, the happier my life is, the more opportunities I have. That was just a quick gut yes.
Well Paul, are there any other tips or insights you’d like to say before we tell people how they can find you and connect with you?
Yeah, great question. I think it’s … I think the key insight is that … There’s different ones that we could talk about, but the key insight is how can you leverage your client relationships to build more business opportunity? How can you leverage those relationships to springboard into even more relationships? Chances are that you have … If you’ve been doing this for any number of years, you have a wealth of relationships, people value you. For whatever reason sometimes we’re shy or hesitant to reach out and ask. But myself, and maybe I’m an extreme example, I go into every new client relationship with almost the aspiration and expectation almost, that if I can help them be successful, I want to move that so they now become my champion. They’re now out there talking about my services. Because when you’re able to do that successfully, clients, opportunities, referrals just naturally come to you.
Yes. And it’s really all about providing a superior level of service, because that’s what it takes to get them to be that enthusiastic, and to become a champion for you. I love that question you were just bringing up. Another way to frame it is, “What do I need to do in order for this person to feel so great about working with me that they want to become my champion?”
If I can add one last thing, it’s also capturing … It’s the power of capturing on video, for a couple of reasons. One is that, when you capture on video, now you can use it forever, so to speak. I think oftentimes we have a sense of when our client is most excited, most enthusiastic, most whatever. It’s to seize the opportunity and capture that. And then the second thing I’ve found is that, when you engage your client in that process, oftentimes they’re happy to say yes. But once they do say yes, they I think on some psychological subconscious level, it takes them into becoming even more of your champion. By them agreeing to champion you just in a video, for example, now they have a personal, emotional investment in being consistent with that over time. I’ve found that every time I do this, it’s like they’re now extremely motivated to continue that process, which is awesome.
That’s great point. Yes, commitment, getting that commitment, feeling that commitment in their bodies, really, so that they are enthused about doing that.
And the final thing is, is that it’s always interesting to see what they have to say. Sometimes you think that they’re experiencing it a certain way, but then you get them on camera and you ask them open-ended questions, and they say something and it’s like, “Oh my goodness, I did that? Wow!” It makes you feel good.
That’s right. It affirms you, too, and the value of what you bring. That’s great. Paul, how can people connect with you?
Easiest way is just LinkedIn. I’m on LinkedIn under Paul G. McManus. The other place to check me out would be on my website, which is milliondollarproducershow.com.
Great. And we’ll put both of those links on our show notes page on our website.
Thank you. I so appreciate your being with me today, this has been such a great conversation. And I know that the folks listening has taken away a ton of value that they can really go out and use now in their own business development.
Awesome. All right, thank you for having me.