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Marcus Sheridan on Growing Your Business By Thinking Like a Customer

Marcus Sheridan on Growing Your Business By Thinking Like a Customer

Today, I am talking with the man, the myth, the legend, Marcus Sheridan, AKA The Sales Lion.  

This man is a content marketing machine. Marcus runs a content marketing firm that helps small businesses of all types develop inbound marketing strategies that actually move the needle and increase sales.  

Marcus’ roots are in the pool industry, where he went from close to failing during the 2008 recession to building the most trafficked swimming pool website in the world.

His book, They Ask You Answer: A Revolutionary Approach to Inbound Sales, Content Marketing and Today’s Digital Consumer, was released about a year ago and it has blown up since then.

His book is a go-to resource for getting clarity around how to start and sustain a marketing machine that reliably generates new business over the long-haul. In our chat today, he shares exactly what you need to do to get started.

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Topics covered:

  • (02:09) – They Ask You Answer
      • (02:15) – Marcus shares the background on his best seller and the reception it’s received so far.
      • (04:46) – Assignment based selling.  What it is and why it matters.
        • (06:17) – Compelling analytics.
        • (07:03) – What it looks like in practice.
        • (09:27) – The kind of content Marcus was producing back at the very beginning.
          • (09:54) – Why you shouldn’t overcomplicate things when you’re starting.
  • (12:23) – The Big Five
      • (12:46) – #1:  Why pricing is important and how to navigate the conversation with your clients and customers.
        • (12:56) – The psychology of the consumer.
      • (13:50) – #2:  Consumers want to know the potential drawbacks, risks and negatives to a product or service.
      • (14:29) – #3:  Consumers love to comparison shop.
      • (15:05) – #4:  Reviews and testimonials.
      • (15:30) – #5:  Consumers want to know what ‘the best’ is.
  • (16:40) – Think Like Your Customer
      • (16:40) – Marcus shares his opinion on what prevents business owners from thinking like a consumer.
        • (18:47) – The importance of explaining your pricing.
      • (21:05) – Discussing the difference between content and storytelling.
          • (21:51) – Integrating customer experience into every piece of content.
      • (25:56) – The process of learning what your customer wants.
        • (26:53) – Tapping into authenticity.
        • (27:48) – Core values that are unlikely to change.
      • (29:00) – Speed is the new loyalty.
        • (29:15) – Speed of marketing.
        • (29:35) – Speed of the sales process.
        • (30:10) – Speed of customer service.
  • (32:14) – Commercial Break
      • (32:23) – Preview of Marcus’ workshop at the PM Grow Summit.
        • (35:49) – Mindset tips for video production.
        • (36:25) – Marcus shares two fundamental rules for making video.
  • (39:57) – “It’s Not Working”
    • (40:17) – Marcus responds to the statement, “I tried blogging, it just didn’t work.”
    • (42:23) – Responding to, “It’s too hard, I just don’t have the time.”
      • (43:06) – How Marcus worked through this problem in his own life and business.

Rapid-fire Questions:

  • (45:34) – What is the tech, i.e., the medium, of 2018?
  • (47:04) – Describe your dream pool.
  • (48:04) – Do you do end of year planning, and if so what does it look like?
  • (48:48) – How do you manage to keep a routine on the road?
  • (50:30) – What is the best keynote that you’ve ever heard?
  • (51:23) – What one book has impacted you the most?
  • (51:42) – If you could do it all over again what one piece of advice would you have given to yourself in 2008?
  • (53:23) – Are entrepreneurs born or bred?

Resources mentioned:

Where to learn more:

If you want to learn more about Marcus and what he’s up to, you can meet him in person at the PM Grow Summit in San Diego or tune into the show to get his personal email.  You can also find him at The Sales Lion.


Jordan: 0:00:0 – 0:00:09.5

Jordan: 0:00:11.0 Welcome closers! Today we have another episode of The Profitable Property Management Podcast coming at you.

This is season 2 on sales, and I’m your host Jordan Muela. And every week I interview world class property management entrepreneurs and industry experts who share actionable insights to help you grow your property management empire.

Whether you manage 100 or 1000 doors, it doesn’t matter. This broadcast is designed to help you see the big picture and to give you the tools and tactics that you need to get to the next level.

0:00:41.5 Today, I am talking with the man, the myth, the legend, Marcus Sheridan. None other than, The Sales Lion.

This man is a content marketing machine. He runs a content marketing firm that helps small businesses of all types develop inbound marketing strategies to actually move the needle and increase sales.

Marcus’ roots are in the pool industry, where he went from close to failing during 2008, during the recession, to actually building the most trafficked swimming pool website in the world.

0:01:15.5 That’s pretty impressive. That stand alone stat. Most trafficked swimming pool website in the world.

His book, They Ask You Answer: A Revolutionary Approach to Inbound Sales, Content Marketing and Today’s Digital Consumer, was released about a year ago. About the time that he spoke at PM Grow last year. And it’s blown up.

It’s really just a go-to resource for getting clarity around how to start and sustain a marketing machine that actually generates new business over the long-haul.

0:01:46.1 Welcome to the show Marcus.

Marcus: 0:01:48.2 Jordan, that was pretty good man. Make me feel more intelligent than I am. I’ll take it.

Jordan: 0:01:52.1 It’s earned brother, it’s earned. No fluff here. So, hey here’s the first thing I want to know. You came out last year. You blew people away at PM Grow. You released the book, we did some book signings. A bunch of people there read it, had feedback for me.

0:02:09.3 Tell me a little bit about the background of the book and your journey since releasing. Kind of the receptivity that you’ve gotten to this message.

Marcus: 0:02:15.7 Yeah, I mean you know, it was a book that I knew I needed to write for awhile because – you know, for those that aren’t familiar with the story, I started a swimming pool company in 2001 with my two friends and in 2008 we almost lost the business when the market collapsed.

0:02:33.4 And literally we were going over the edge. And that’s when I started to learn about inbound and content marketing and basically, what I heard, in my simple pool guy mindset, was,

“Ok Marcus, if you just obsess over the questions that you get every day from prospects and customers, and you’re willing to address those on your website, with the good, bad or ugly, through text and video, well then you just might save your company. You might generate enough trust, traffic, leads and sales to save the business.”

0:03:00.1 And so that’s what we did and our core philosophy became: When they ask you answer them. 0:03:05.8 When they ask you answer, it goes beyond just answering your customer’s questions.
It’s the willingness to adjust to the way consumers want to buy and learn and adapt today. And it’s this flexible, fluid mindset.

0:03:24.5 And so, like you said, Jordan, it came out in January. It was named the #1 marketing book in 2017 by Mashable. Which was pretty dang awesome. And it’s done very, very well.

And here’s the cool thing about it man, this is what makes me happy, is it has turned into this bible, almost, of converting hard-headed people that don’t want to do digital. Right? That don’t get it, or don’t see how it would work with their business. It’s turned into this bible of getting those folks to catch the vision.

0:03:58.4 Lots of marketers and CMOs have, like, “Yo Marcus, I couldn’t convince my boss until I – he finally agreed to read your book and then everything changed after that.” And that makes me really happy.

Jordan: Yeah, absolutely. 0:04:08.9 You know, the way I think about it is, if that book had been full of low-level tactics, it would have made somebody like me happy. I would have enjoyed it. I would have recognized your expertise and used all those things.

But because you chose not to do that, because you chose to take a high-level perspective and to really address the core root philosophy and the perspective and take your spin on getting aligned with the customer, globally, not with any one industry or vertical, but just recognizing the change and adapting – that’s why I think it was so broadly useful.

0:04:46.0 Let’s dive into some of the concepts from the book. And the first is this, and this is something, as somebody who considers himself fairly familiar with selling. Was something that I – up to this point, and up to interacting with you, really hadn’t come across, and that is assignment based selling. What is that and why does it matter?

Marcus: 0:05:05.1 Well, if you talk to any sales person, generally around the world – doesn’t matter the industry they’re in, B2B, B2C, and you say to them, “What percentage of the questions you get every time on a first sales appointment are the same?”

0:05:17.8 Most are going to say, “About 80%.”

And so that begs the question, why do we keep doing it this way, Jordan? Like, why do we go into a sales call knowing that we’re going to get a certain set of questions every single time. 0:05:35.8 Like, do we need to practice? We don’t. 0:05:39.0 We understand how to answer those.

The issue is, if we are answering those common 80% that we get every single time, what does it say about the prospect?

And so, what would happen if we could dramatically, like, decrease the sales cycle while increasing closing rates by making sure we could eliminate those 80%?

0:06:06.0 And it really started for me with – in 2013 I was doing an analytics analysis, if you will, on the leads that were coming to my website.

0:06:17.4 And what I found was, if somebody read 30 or more pieces of content on our site before the initial sales call, they would buy 80% of the time.

If they didn’t hit that number, the closing rates were about 25%, which happens to be roughly industry average. So it was going from 25-80% by them consuming, what in our case was 30 pieces of our content.

0:06:40.7 And so that’s when I said, “Holy crud, all I’ve got to do is get these prospects to consume more content before I physically meet with them.”

And it became obvious as to why, so as to eliminate the bad fits, to make sure they were further down the sales cycle. And so we integrated content into the sales process.

0:07:03.7 So what it looks like, Jordan, is you call me up and you say, “Yo Marcus, I’m checking out your website, could you come up to my house this Friday and give me a quote.” Right? And so integrating that with, let’s say in this case, our pool company, I would say now,

“Sure Jordan, I’d love to. But you’re getting ready to spend a lot of money. And if you’re going to spend a lot of money, I know you don’t want to make any mistakes. And so as to make sure you don’t make any mistakes, I’m going to make sure that you’re really educated. So this is what I’m going to do. As we’re talking on the phone right now, I’m going to send you two things that are really going to help you in this process. One is a video that shows you the entire process of the pool showing up to the house, going in the ground, patio going around it, the whole nine. The second thing I’m going to show you, or send you, is this guide or ebook, if you will, that’s going to answer all those nitty-gritty questions that you have about pools that you can’t seem to find an answer for, like ‘should I get a heater with my pool? What’s the best type of heater? Should I get a cover? What’s the best type of cover?’ All those things it’s going to answer. It’s a little bit long, it’s about 30 pages, but I promise it will be well worth your time. Will you take the time to review those things before our appointment on Friday?”

0:08:08.0 And almost every single time the person says, “Sure.”

And Jordan, I’m telling you, when I just implemented that to our sales process, our whole life changed. It was amazing. Of course, I’ve implemented it in sales organizations now all over the globe. It’s powerful man, it’s powerful.

Jordan: 0:08:26.5 What’s interesting about that is that, in part is the question of correlation or causation. Is there simply a correlation between the people that read a lot, are more interested in buying?

Or is it causational? That by virtue of them reading more, they’re actually more ready to buy? And I think we would all recognize that we would love to have people reading more interesting stuff on our website.

0:08:48.6 But if you put yourself back in the mind of Marcus in 2008 – now we see what you’re doing and you’re preaching the word with passion. You’re clearly suggesting an idealogical framework that works and has results behind it. 0:09:09.0 But back in 2008, you didn’t know that.

Can you just kind of walk me through some of the mental hangups that you had at that time? Out of the gate, were you – did you just wake up one day and have this commitment to creating amazing, fully-featured content? Like what did that – what was the quality of that content? What did it look like back in the day?

Marcus: 0:09:27.4 Yeah so, if you went and you read my original – we’ll call them blog articles, on the River Pool’s website.

Jordan: Are they still up by the way?

Marcus: 0:09:36.5 Absolutely. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, you would say, “Bro, you weren’t a very good writer.”

And that’s because I wasn’t. Like, if you looked at it, it didn’t pass the eye test, it really didn’t have a voice, a tone, a style. I didn’t know a lot of best practices with respect to search engine optimization.

0:09:54.7 But, you know, those initial ones, man, it was a victory. The same could be said for video. Like, like, the first videos I did were an epic, just disaster. It looked like I’d been drug out of the bottom of a lake three days before. You know?

And so, but I hit publish. I was willing to fail forward. I was willing to appear imperfect, because I am. 0:10:20.1 And I was ok with that. You know, so many people think that digital and the process of content production is like NASA and it’s got to be perfect to launch.

0:10:30.9 And this is why – and I’m not kidding when I say this, Jordan, the internet is run by C+ students and the A+ students are working for them. 0:10:37.7 Because the C+ students are willing to launch it before it’s great, perfect or planned out to the T. And that’s what it was for me.

It’s like a lot of this was – I had a simple philosophy, which was I want to be the best teacher in the world when it comes to pools, right?

And so I said I’m going to answer all their questions, good, bad or ugly. 0:11:01.3 ‘They ask you answer’ is the fundamental philosophy. 0:11:05.0 That was really it. That’s all I really knew. And the rest, like I mentioned SEO, like tone, voice, style; like depth of content and ultimately the strategy.

Like ‘The Big Five’ that you read about in the book. Like, that stuff I just came by doing it. 0:11:23.6 But because I always had so much of an obsession with what I was being asked every day, it became easy. See, I didn’t over-complicate it.

0:11:31.9 And that’s why I’m really grateful I didn’t go to, like, business school or marketing school where I would become so jaded in this marketing gobbledygook that I would’ve lost my ability to think exactly like a customer. And that’s the one thing that I do very, very well.

Jordan: 0:11:48.2 Yeah, absolutely. So let’s illustrate that right now. You just mentioned ‘The Big Five’. That to me is a really accessible thing.

Because when you say that ‘they ask you answer’ is practical, what I take that to mean is that the knowledge is already in the head of the business owner.

And if the business owner truly doesn’t know the basic questions, I don’t know if anything is going to help them.

Marcus: 0:12:09.6 Right! They might be in the wrong business. Right? You know, they just don’t care.

Jordan: 0:12:13.3 Exactly. But more likely than that, they do have quite a bit of expertise that is unstated, unarticulated, unformatted, and is only done so on an ad-hoc basis, like you just mentioned.

0:12:23.1 So, going through the Big Five, starting off with the first one which is pricing. 0:12:27.8 What I liked about what you talk about in the book, and you used the example of pools where there just is no easy answer for a pool, right?

0:12:35.6 What does a pool cost? How could you possibly answer that question in one sentence? You can’t. But you can give a generic range.

But furthermore, you recognize that customers do want some level of specificity. 0:12:46.5 The more generalized you get, the less satisfied and fulfilled people are. Can you walk me through that – why pricing is so important and how to, kind of, navigate through talking about it?

Marcus: 0:12:56.7 So what we’re talking about here starts with the psychology of everybody that’s listening to this right now. When we are getting ready to make a purchase – and when I say a purchase, when we’re deciding to spend money with somebody or something, we – before we talk with that individual, that entity, we want to know a few things.

0:13:19.3 And there’s five specific areas where we feel like we have to have at least a sense of before we start the conversation. Before we go to the store, before we schedule the appointment, whatever that thing is, five.

0:13:33.9 We want to know how much does it cost and we want to know – not just what does it cost, but what are the variables around pricing. Like why are some expensive why are some cheap? What are the factors? Like, we want to understand that. Alright? That’s number one. By far.

0:13:50.0 Number two, we want to know if we’re purchasing something – we’re going with a company or whatever – we want to know, well how could this blow up in my face. The negatives. The drawbacks. The issues. The problems.

Jordan: 0:14:04.4 We de-risk it.

Marcus: 0:14:05.6 Yes. What are the risks that are involved. Right? And so that’s number two. By the way, most businesses do not talk about any of these big five. Some talk about one or two. Almost none talk about five. And so, if you want to completely stand out in the marketplace, all you have to do is obsessively apply the five things I’m telling you right now. Ok? So two is problems.

0:14:29.6 Number three is, as buyers and consumers, we’re obsessed with comparing things. In other words, if I’m looking at one property, I also have to compare it to another property before I’m able to say, “Ok, I feel good about that thing.” Right?

So that’s an example of that. 0:14:45.8 So if I’m looking at one property management company, I’m also looking at another property management company. And I’m seeing how they stack up against each other.

0:14:53.2 Or, I’m looking at different plans for property management. “Ok, this company offers this type of property management plan, this company offers that type.” See this is the way that I think as a buyer, as a consumer. 0:15:01.5 Right? So, we love to compare.

0:15:05.4 Number four, we are obsessed with knowing what is everybody saying about that particular thing. In other words, reviews.

So generally speaking, people don’t look up, like, quality. They look up what other people say, i.e., reviews, to define what makes for quality, or what makes for ‘good’. Right? So that’s number four.

0:15:30.4 And then, finally, number five – we want to know – if we’re going to go with something, if we’re going to buy something – we want to know what the best of that thing is.

So for example, if I live in, like, Richmond, Virginia – which I live very near Richmond, Virginia, and I need to hire a property management company, it’s a very common search for me to say, “Best property management companies Richmond Virginia.” Right? Very, very common search.

0:15:52.4 Problem is, again, most businesses don’t think like this. This is how buyers think, this is how you think, this is how I think, this is how we think and this is the great divide between transparency and teachers versus those that are simply still living in 1995 and talking about stuff the way everybody else does. 0:16:08.4 Which is holding back the majority of the key things that people want to know.

Jordan: 0:16:12.3 Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. So, Marcus, in so much as you do get any pushback, I don’t imagine this is the part of the talk where that happens.

Because I think everything that you just said, when we’re thinking about us, about us as the consumer, and them facing the vendor, relate to all of those wants and desires. That’s how we approach it, that’s the information, the transparency, the due diligence that we will want to do.

0:16:40.2 In your mind, what prevents business owners from putting themselves in the shoes of the consumer? What prevents people from doing this externalization? In a mindset that is otherwise very, very familiar to all of us when we’re making purchases ourselves.

Marcus: 0:17:01.4 Yeah, I really like this question a lot, Jordan, because I think it’s the great divide. There’s a sad reality, and that is some businesses are never going to be good at digital and social because they can’t think like a consumer or buyer. 0:17:21.0

Now, I don’t actually believe they can’t, but they just…don’t. 0:17:25.7 They’re so stuck on their own junk and their own secret sauce, which is a myth anyway.

And this idea that, “Well, we’ve been doing it this way for this long and thus we need not change”, which is a pride-cycle element there.

So, because of these things they just don’t look in the mirror and say, “My goodness, this is what I would want if I was the buyer, if I was the consumer.” 0:17:52.6 They don’t think like that.

And so because they don’t – because they don’t allow themselves to do that, then they create these walls as to why they couldn’t talk about it. 0:18:00.0

You know, a perfect example – it’s funny to me, man – take a property management company that’s on the high-end – and a lot of the ones that you talk with, because they’re serious about their business and they’re serious about their personal development and that’s what’s so powerful about PM Grow.

It’s like, you get all these things – what I love about the event, why I love the conference – I was shocked at last year – it was the first inaugural year – because it was so well done and powerful. It had impact on people.

People that attend those events, they’re not trying to be the cheapest property management company in town, right?

And what’s funny to me though, is when I’ve talked with property management companies in the past and talked to them about why they lose deals, lots of times people say, “Well it’s because we’re more expensive.”

0:18:47.7 Well, ok, “Do you ever win deals because you’re more expensive?”

Then all of a sudden people are like, “Huh, never really thought about that.”

And then I say, “Ok, let’s just assume this idea that you are ‘more expensive’. Alright, how do people define what makes something expensive in the property management space? In other words, let’s say I look at a property management company and their service is $200 a month. And your service is $300 a month. Have you taken the time to explain definitively, why yours happens to be on the high side? Are you telling me clearly so I can paint this picture of, like, sure we could be less but this is what we would, and therefore you would, as the homeowner or as the commercial property owner, this is what you would sacrifice.”

You see, this is not the conversations that most property management companies are having. 0:19:41.7 What they’ll do, maybe, is they might put price and then they might give a list of all the services that are entailed in that.

0:19:51.4 The problem is, Average Joe homeowner or business owner can’t do a comparative analysis and say, “Oh, whoa I understand now. So what you’re telling me is, you’re double, but here’s all the risk that is eliminated because you’re double. Here’s the insurances that you have, here’s the type of employees that you have. In fact, here’s what they have to go through in the vetting process just to be hired for your company.” It’s like, go down the list and all of a sudden they’re like, “Oh yeah, I’m happy to pay double. Sure. All day long.” 0:20:21.5 But see, most don’t do that and because of that they’re worried about — or they end up losing deals in their mind because they’re more expensive than everybody else. When you do not teach and explain things well, you unintentionally commoditize that which you sell. 0:20:34.8

Jordan: 0:20:36.0 Ah man, well said. I love it. I couldn’t agree more. And what’s interesting to me is that the mindset that you are describing, critiquing, to some degree it’s really about hiding.

People that want to hide from these hard conversations. 0:20:54.0 And the truth is, you can. But you’re hiding from customers. By avoiding the hard conversations, you’re hiding from the people that you want to have actually pay you.

0:21:05.6 Here’s a follow up question that I have. Talk to me about the difference between content and story telling?

Because what you describe is so incredibly accessible. Just answer the questions in a written or video format that you’ve been asked hundreds and hundreds of times. That’s pretty darn accessible.

0:21:27.2 But I want to elevate it and take it one level up. Because I know that anybody can do that, but when we think about brand, when we think about the customer journey, when we think about the values that a consumer may work with us in order to be a part of, how do you think about that and how that can get woven and interspersed in this content that you’re creating?

Marcus: 0:21:51.0 Yeah, another really good thought, Jordan. Every piece of content that you produce, whether it’s an article or a video, whatever it is, you should ask yourself, “Is it possible that I integrate a customer experience into this piece? Is it possible?” 0:22:10.8

A perfect case in point. 0:22:12.7 So let’s say that you’re having a cost conversation. Let’s go back to that. 0:22:18.6 To crystallize what you’re saying, you can say,

“You know, we once had somebody come to us that wanted us to manage their properties. And we gave them a price and they ended up going with another company that cost x amount less. And they told us, ‘well we’re going with them because they’re offering this particular service for less.’ And here’s how it ended up for that company. Here’s what they experienced. Here’s the frustrations that they had. And six months later they came back and they said, ‘Hey can we relook at this?’.

And so you see this is an experience we’ve seen over and over and over again. Over the past, you know, ten years at, you know, Sheridan Property Management Services.’” Right?

So, just by, just by – you can state a truth, but then painting a picture of a real life moment experience, if you will, that includes that truth, that principle, integrated into it, now all of a sudden it can all make sense.

0:23:23.1 Because sometimes you can say something – in other words, you can say, “Well if you do this, than this might happen.” 0:23:31.7 It doesn’t resonate as much as if I say, “You know, a lot of…” – instead of saying, “You know, oftentimes people go with fibreglass pools because they have a smooth bottom.”

I can say instead, “You know, we had a lady come to us one time, she had owned a concrete pool for three years and this was a family, and the one thing this family loved was volleyball in the pool. And this was their passion. Volleyball in the pool. But they had a major problem. If they played volleyball in the pool for more than 30 minutes, the kids would literally leave the pool with bloody feet. Every single time. And you see folks, that is the issue that you have to deal with if you’re considering a concrete swimming pool. Sure, you have unlimited capabilities in terms of shape, size and options, but if you’re looking for the ultimate smooth finish, something that will allow you to play volleyball for three hours a day, every single day, during the summer time and never feel it at all, well then fibreglass might be the option to consider.”

0:24:38.5 Do you see what I’m saying? So by integrating that story into it, it’s a completely different meaning than just saying, “Yeah, it’s rough on your feet.”

Jordan: 0:24:49.0 Yeah, absolutely. The power of story. There’s no doubt about it. I want to dig deeper. I want even more. Because when I hear you speak, what I don’t hear, and maybe I just selectively ignore it, Marcus.

But for the most part, I don’t hear you talking about leads. I don’t hear you talking about the granular, constituent elements, SQLs, MQLs, etc. The things that I would think of when I generally think about sales and marketing.

0:25:11.9 I know you’re knowledgable and you care about those things, but for the most part, I hear you focusing on values. Really, you’re talking about things that transcend any one given marketing campaign, etc.

0:25:25.7 Talk to me about how business owners can do the same thing. Because taking something granular and applying a story, you just juiced it 10X.

But to have the story of one specific example that’s relevant and the consumer can relate to the overall big picture of the customer journey that you want to take them on with your business that relates to something much higher level that they care about – how does a small business owner get in that space?

Marcus: 0:25:56.6 It’s kind of a loaded question. There’s a lot entailed here Jordan. I think it starts with this really simple philosophy of really who is the most important element of what I do.

If we really do believe it’s the customer and we accept that the customer is in charge, which they are. Which they are right? I mean, you’re in charge, I’m in charge of the buying process.

So, then we are able to design everything around, “what would they want in this moment and how would they want it?”

0:26:29.9 And you don’t figure it out overnight. This is a process. An evolution, man. You know, you look at River Pools – this is something now that we’ve been doing for – since early 2009, and you know, at first it was lots of just dry, textual pieces of content. Right?

0:26:53.1 And then I started to really realize what did people want to know about. And how do I want to talk to them. Do I want to talk to them like I’m a business, or do I want to talk to them like I’m sitting with them at the coffeeshop, just being real.

0:27:08.2 Just having a straight conversation helping them out. That’s when the tone and the voice started to develop and eventually we started to do video and we embraced the messy that came with that. 0:27:22.0 And we went from really awful looking videos to, “I can’t believe you all produced those in-house.”

Now, you know, we’re just doing amazing videos all the time with River Pools. We’re producing more content today than we ever have. And just, honestly, for a lack of a better phrase, we’re just stepping on the neck of the rest of the industry.

0:27:48.7 And that’s because I’m obsessed with staying five years ahead of the marketplace. 0:27:52.9 You know, certain things aren’t ever going to go away, Jordan. Right?

And so, I don’t know if Facebook is going to be here forever, but I do know that customers are always going to have questions.

And I do know that they’re always going to appreciate honest and transparent answers and they’re going to be able to sense companies that are being real versus those that are being bias and self-serving.

0:28:16.4 That’s going to be legitimate for the next 100 years at least. And so, if that is the case, that’s why – you know, if I had written, They Ask You Answer six, seven years ago, it would just have been a book about blogging for business.

And I’m glad that I waited, because it became a philosophy of how we do business. And you know, this year when I come to PM Grow, I’m willing to really – I’m going to be talking about a lot of different things, it’s going to be like, the next level, but one of these elements is – so, if you look at – here’s just a quick preview of some of the elements.

0:29:00.7 When you look at business today, speed is the new loyalty.

So what do I mean by speed? Ok? So this is three-fold. It happens with the marketing process, it happens with the sales process, it happens with the customer service process. Right?

29:15 So, speed of marketing. If you come to the site right now, right? And you’re learning about my company, do you find out what you want to find out immediately? Can you get it fast.

In other words, can you read that article fast? Can you find out the pricing fast? Can you get a quick response if you request a quote, right?

0:29:35.9 Which starts to get into the sales process. Now once the sales process starts, you don’t want a cumbersome sales process. You want it to fast.

0:29:45.0 You want to quickly say, this is dat, dat, dat. These are the things that I want. Because you came prepared.

You don’t want a salesperson to dork around with you. You want them to give you the meat. Yes, you want to have a human relationship, but you want them to quickly give you the information that you’re looking for.

You don’t want to have to wait five weeks for a quote. You want to get it immediately. You want to get it fast. 0:30:04.6 And then if you agree to it, you want to get the contract fast.

0:30:10.6 And then if there’s a customer service issue, you want to contact somebody fast. 0:30:09.7 And believe it or not, it doesn’t’ have to be a real voice. It just has to be – the knowing that they are going to solve this problem for me very quickly. That’s the essence of customer service today.

0:30:21.5 It’s not even – believe it or not, “I have to talk to somebody on the phone right now, 24/7”, that’s not the truth. The truth is, I just want to know that somebody is working on my problem right away.

Speed is the new loyalty. It affects all three elements of the buying journey. Right? The marketing, the sales and the customer service elements to this journey. 0:30:41.0

And if a company sees it that way, and they’re focused on what is the customer obsessed with, what do they want? And the easy way to answer that is, “What do I want?”

0:30:51.8 Well then, we can really revolutionize the way that we market and sell. It’s pretty beautiful if you get it, and that’s why I’m excited about this year’s event, man. I’m pretty stoked about it.

Jordan: 0:30:59.2 Yeah man. I love it. So you totally answered my question, man. My original, kind of convoluted question I asked. Your answer is basically, lean in, do the work, start the prospective…

Marcus: 0:31:14.3 Skip that junk.

Jordan: 0:31:15.8 The philosophy, it comes when you’re doing the work. You can’t stand in place and come up with these grandiose ideas. At least you can but they’re worthless.

It’s only by actually doing the work that that perspective, that attitude, that belief that you have, that conviction about actually develops. 0:31:32.4 I love that. Speed, of course, it’s never going to go away. It’s only getting more important.

Marcus: 0:31:39.4 More relevant. Yeah. Oh yeah.

Jordan: 0:31:41.5 You just wonder, where is it going to stop? ‘The Wow Factor’. I think about the other day, when my wife ordered something and she got the package the same day.

And in 2017, that was still able to solicit a ‘wow’. A couple years ago it was getting it in two days. What’s it going to be in 2020?

A day is going to come when the consumer is hacked off that it took less than a half hour for them to get something shipped to their home. And you either adapt or die.

0:32:14.4 I do appreciate you mentioning the talk that you’re giving at the PM Grow Summit. I’m super stoked about that. I will be butt in chair, taking notes.

0:32:23.2 But I’m also going to be present for the workshop, Marcus. Because you are doing a video workshop. People get so jazzed about video.

0:32:30.9 Talk about staying with consumer expectations. Talk about the format and the medium of the century. What are we going to be talking about in the context of that workshop? And why should people think about showing up for it?

Marcus: 0:32:44.2 Yeah, here’s the one stat on video I’m going to give you that this is the one that should keep you up at night as a business owner. And that is, they say by the year 2019, which folks, that’s less than a year away, that 80% of the content consumed online is going to be video based content.

Jordan: 0:32:59.7 Wow.

Marcus: 0:33:00.4 And so, we have to accept these trends for what they are. I don’t make up the numbers, I just live with them. Right?

Video is the rising tide. And it’s going to come up that beach whether we move our lounge chairs or not. So we have a choice, we can either do something about it or we can think, “Jeez, you know, you know, hopefully I’ll be able to figure it out at some point.”

0:33:20.4 No, no, no, no this wave is still in the process of going up. It’s not coming down yet. You have a tremendous opportunity, but if you analyze the stat for what it is, it means this.

We’re all media companies. You’re a media company, I’m a media company. I’m a media company that sells swimming pools. I’m a media company that happens to speak around the world. You’re a media company that happens to manage properties. You, we, me, we’re a media company.

0:33:43.4 And so, if we approach it like that, it helps make or it influences certain decisions. Like a huge portion of our clients today that we consult with have full-time videographers.

And most property management companies should have – like I already have a couple client property management companies.

0:34:00.8 They – video is – I mean, how can you have a property management company without video. It doesn’t’ make sense to me. It’s fundamentally impossible.

And so in this workshop, man, it’s going to be great. 0:34:15.2 Because we’re going to discuss a few major elements. Performance on camera. This is something that a lot of people don’t teach. You know, that I love just the art of communication, Jordan.

Jordan: Absolutely.

Marcus: 0:34:28.4 And so, we’re going to discuss how to perform on camera in a way that – for those that are saying I’m just not that good on camera…nope. We’re going to get rid of that idea, I promise you.

You’re going to hopefully leave saying, “You know what, I can actually pull this off.” 0:34:43.2 So I’m going to give you the tips, tricks and techniques to go from, “I don’t know if I’m great on camera” to being very good.

0:34:49.8 And if you’re already good, we’re going to make you great just by following, again, these tips, tricks, techniques. I’m excited about that. 0:34:56.4 We’re going to discuss…

Jordan: 0:34:58.9 Let’s just camp out on that. We’ve got to stop on that one man. Because – so here’s what this relates to in my mind.

Sales. Some people believe that sales is about charisma, right? You’re born with it. That gleam, that twinkle in the eye. And hey, if you don’t have it, you just got to trudge your way through.

0:35:13.2 Same thing with speaking, same thing with being behind the camera. But, that pressure – the pressure of that mindset, it largely comes from having no tools. No framework. And just feeling like, “Hey man, if you don’t just have it, you don’t have it.”

Marcus: That’s bogus.

Jordan: 0:35:33.1 It’s such a big reason. People – it’s such a reason. People get in their own way and they get in their own head. You have the charisma. Right? I’ve seen you speak. You got it. But I also know you have – you got a framework. You got some tips, some tools.

0:35:49.2 Talk to me just a little bit about what you do specifically on that point to get yourself in the right mindset before you go on camera. 0:35:55.6 Do you have a routine? Or is it all muscle memory?

Marcus: 0:36:00.6 If people watch my original YouTube videos, “Like wow man, you’re really lacking charisma, I’m not sure if this is your thing.”

And so, like, now people are like, “Oh yeah, I can tell you’re just born with this.” Man, it’s crazy to me. 0:36:14.9 I truly do believe that everybody can come across as trust worthy and believable on camera.

0:36:25.5 Now the styles with which you do that, they might change, they might evolve, they might be different from person to person.

But just to give you a couple of – I’m going to give you, like a preview of – we’re going to discuss these two rules, but if you want to become great on camera, there’s two rules that you have to follow.

And the first one is the most important. It is – when I’ve taken – literally, I’ve taken sales teams and done on-camera training with them, and the ones that swore they weren’t good, by following these two rules, within two to three hours they’re like, “You know, I’m actually really good at this.”

I’m like, “Yeah you’re good at this ding-dong. You’re good at talking to people you’re going to be good on camera as well.”

Like, anybody that says, “I’m good with people” or, “I’m good at talking with people”, you can be great on camera.

0:37:05.4 Now, first rule is this: Whenever you start a take – in other words, you start shooting a video, you’re not allowed to stop no matter what. That’s the most important rule of video. 0:37:16.6

Jordan: Oh yeah.

Marcus: 0:37:18.6 There’s a lot of psychological reasons for this. But here’s the quickest reason, the moment we know we can stop we start stopping a lot more.

But if you have to move forward, regardless of what you say, regardless of whether or not your fly is down, you just move forward, it teaches you always just to be in the state of flow and movement.

0:37:44.0 And by doing this, you’re going to see that you do an amazing amount of videos on one take. Amazing amount of videos on one take. Right? Because think, when was the last time you were on a sales presentation with a prospect and you said, “You know what, I think – let’s just start all over again from the beginning.” 0:37:58.0 It’s never happened before. Never happened.

Because we actually use this principle every single day with prospects, we just don’t realize it. That’s number one.

0:38:04.5 Number two, but you can do it again. So you can do a second take, or a third take if you want. And oftentimes I’ll do this if I feel like, you know, it was ok, or it was just average. Or it was good, but let’s see if I can make it even better. But I’ll always go through the entire take no matter what.

0:38:23.7 Those are two fundamentally outrageously simple rules, but by following them, I’m telling you, you’re on – performance skills will dramatically change and evolve with respect to video.

0:38:35.5 And anybody can learn what I just said right there. That’s just that. So we’re going to be talking about that. We’re going to talk about behind the camera best practices. We’re going to be talking about strategy for video.

In other words, when you leave that session, you’re going to have – I promise you when I say this, at least one year’s worth of video content to produce when you leave. At least a year’s worth of video content to produce.

0:39:00.8 You’re going to be like, “Dude, why have I not done that video?” I’m, of course, going to chuckle and say, “I don’t know. You should have, right?”

0:39:05.9 So, it’s going to be one of those days. It’s going to be a great day. George B. Thomas, who works with me at The Sales Lion 0:39:12.6, one of my employees, he’s really just a great guy. Super knowledgable in the tech side of things.

0:39:19.6 So we’re going to be there, we’re going to have a great day, it’s going to be powerful. And a lot of value in a short period of time.

Jordan: 0:39:27.1 I love it. So we’re going to talk about production values. We’re going to talk about how you can set up a little studio at home.

We’re going to talk about how you can lower the bar, raise the quality and start executing on this in a more consistent basis.

Marcus: 0:39:38.5 Yeah, everything we talk about, you’re not going to – we’re not talking major money. Everything we talk about is going to be – if you have a couple thousand bucks to spend on video over the next year, you should be in that session. Literally, you should be in that session. It’s going to be powerful.

Jordan: 0:39:57.8 Love it. I will be there. I do want to transition now into what I like to call the, ‘It’s Not Working’ section of the interview. Marcus. And I just, kind of, I want to work through some various reasons why all of your advice and all of your years of experience simply won’t work.

0:40:17.7 And here’s the first one I want to go through. Marcus, I tried blogging, it didn’t work. That’s a fact, Marcus. Deal with that. I tried it. I tried it, man. It didn’t work.

Marcus: 0:40:30.1 Yeah. Yeah.

Jordan: How do you respond?

Marcus: 0:40:32.9 Yeah. Oh there’s so many different ways to respond. So, here’s the quickest way, I’d say. I want to see what you did.

Because anytime anybody has ever told me that, when I looked at what they were focused on with their blogging, they didn’t think like the buyer. They didn’t think like the consumer.

0:40:54.3 They thought like a business, they addressed what they wanted to as a business. Lot of fluffy content. It wasn’t big five. It wasn’t focused on the good, the bad and the ugly. It wasn’t deep enough. It wasn’t strong enough. 0:41:07.9 It wasn’t clear enough. And it just didn’t have the strategy behind it.

0:41:13.1 And so, there’s almost always a reason. And let’s look at it like this too. How could anybody say that if they really get the principle of using it with, not just your marketing, but your sales as well. In other words, your assignment selling.

0:41:28.2 So in other words, let’s say you produce content over the next six months. You produce 20 pieces of content. And from that 20 pieces of content, you never got a single visitor from Google search.

But, let’s say, from that content, you integrated a great buying guide that you instilled into your sales process very early on.

0:41:49.1 And because you instilled that into your sales process very early on and you made sure that all your prospects read it or viewed it before your initial sales call, now all of a sudden you found that your sales calls were shorter, that your closing rates went up and that you had a higher profit per sale.

0:42:04.7 Would you say that blogging was successful? You see, it is extremely successful, even if you never get a single search visitor to your website. Right?

0:42:13.8 And so, it goes so far beyond that. And those that see it that way or say it that way, it’s very myopic and I can tell they’ve screwed up somehow. They’ve wet the bed.

Jordan: 0:42:23.1 Well here’s the second rally I want you to deal with Marcus. “It’s too hard. It’s too much work. And I don’t know if you’ve done this before Marcus, but what you are suggesting that I do within my business is so much work and, newsflash, I actually have to run the business. So how do you expect me to have the time to go creating all this content?”

Marcus: 0:42:47.4 Yeah, yeah. So I have zero empathy. And the reason why I have zero empathy is because in 2009 when I embarked on this journey I was – my credit cards were maxed out, I was overdrawn in my business bank account. I’m not kidding about that. Overdrawn.

0:43:06.4 And I didn’t have any money or “time”. 0:43:11.6 And I went to my wife and I said, “I’ve got to do this. And what it means is I need to go from eight to six hours of sleep a night until I can fix the problem.”

0:43:20.8 And so every single night, right around 10:30-11:00pm, when everybody in my house went to bed, I stayed up and I produced content for two straight years.

So this is why I have zero empathy or compassion for those that are saying, “Well, I’m just too busy.” 0:43:35.7 No, it’s not the problem. You see, we all have time for that which we value.

People tell me they don’t have time and they go fishing every Saturday. I get it, I love to fish too. I fish 220 hours a year on average. But guess what, we make time for that which we value. 0:43:53.8

And most people say actually they don’t have time because either A: they don’t value it. Or B: They’re not experiencing enough pain yet. 0:44:02.6 I was experiencing so much pain that I didn’t have a choice. I had to do it, Jordan.

0:44:08.1 And you see, a lot of companies, because they’re fat and happy or moderately successful, they choose the path of least resistance and thus, eventually the marketplace catches up.

Jordan: 0:44:19.4 Absolutely. Yeah. I couldn’t agree more. And you know, as you say that, the first thing I’m wondering is, how will on Earth will you know that you spend exactly 220 hours a year on average fishing? The second thing that I’m thinking here.

Marcus: 0:44:35.3 Wait, wait, wait. Before you say that, when you have a – anybody that’s a boater knows that – just like a car has an odometer, a boat has an hour meter on your motor. And because all my fishing is done with trolling, the motor’s on when we’re fishing and thus, I know exactly how much time we spend fishing each year.

Jordan: 0:44:58.6 Alright. I didn’t know if you were one of these guys that’s a ruthless time tracker. You probably are. But alright, mystery solved.

0:45:04.5 The second thing I think as you say that is, it’s always working. What you’re always doing is always working. Whether or not the outcome is your stated goal or not, your actions are always in alignment with the outcomes that you are currently experiencing.

0:45:23.8 Moving on to the final rapid-fire section of this interview. Marcus, I want some guttural answers from you. I have a list of questions. The people want to know, Marcus. 0:45:34.1 And the first thing that the people want to know is, what is the tech, i.e., the medium, of 2018? What’s coming, man? What’s new in 2018?

Marcus: 0:45:48.3 Video. Video, no question. Video. Just video but possibly better video. Video with…

Jordan: 0:45:54.2 Are we talking VR? I mean, what are we talking about?

Marcus: 0:45:55.8 No, I mean Vr is going to be a big deal and it’s going to be a huge deal in the property space, but you got to get through elementary school before you can get to college. And the idea that people are just going to be busing out VR, it’s like, no.

You know, let’s master video, let’s master, you know, things like – yes, 360 video. And also, integrating text into your video. Making every video into a presentation.

0:46:22.1 I don’t do videos anymore without text. Like I have textual overlays on all my videos. And I didn’t have that at first. Right?

So I keep raising the bar there and so it’s video. And then raising the bar with video as you go through the different grades and levels. 0:46:35.3

Jordan: 0:46:36.0 Practical answer guys. He didn’t snow me with AI or machine learning.

Marcus: 0:46:43.3 No, man. I mean, let’s be honest. Let’s be honest. I think about those things all the time. I think they’re a huge deal. I think AI’s going to be a big deal, but what’s it help you to have some incredible chat bot on your website if you’re only getting ten visitors a month. 0:46:56.8 It doesn’t help Jack poo. You know what I’m saying? So we need to build a foundation first.

Jordan: 0:47:03.7 Well said. Next question. 0:47:04.6 Marcus, describe your dream pool.

Marcus: 0:47:09.3 My dream pool. Oh, probably, like, some type of stone patio around it with a tiered water feature and I’d want to have a deep end that I could actually dive into. So maybe some like, massive lagoon. And, but I want a beach entry as well, so that it’s got incredible like – well I just like a beach entry. And tons of seating and ledges and benches. A couple kiddie pools for the kids because I’m a family guy. That would fit me pretty well.

Jordan: 0:47:49.4 Oh man. This thing mushroomed pretty quick. Alright. That sounds desirable.

Marcus: 0:47:55.6 It’s $500,000 is what I just quoted you on that one.

Jordan: 0:48:02.1 Alright. I wouldn’t have expected any less. 0:48:04.2 Marcus, do you do end of year planning, and if so what does it look like?

Marcus: 0:48:08.1 Yeah, I do at least some type of audit where I say how was I this year physically, mentally, spiritually, professionally and emotionally.

And, see where I feel like I did well and where I fell short. 0:48:29.8 And then I list three major goals for each one of those each year.

And put it on a white board in my office so I can see it and re-visualize it throughout the year and be reminded of it again and again.

0:48:42.5 So those are the major things that I do, and it helps. It makes a big, big difference.

Jordan: 0:48:48.8 Marcus, how do you manage to keep a routine on the road?

Marcus: 0:48:52.0 Yeah so, I think the biggest thing for me is I don’t feel sorry for myself when I travel. A lot of travellers do, man. They just turn into these – I don’t mean harm, but they turn into pansies. And there’s just like, “Oh it’s so rough out there.”

Like, man, when I land – I spent 125 nights in hotels last year. That’s exactly what I spent. 0:49:11.8 And, I – as soon as I land, I immediately go to get the workout done. Right after I land. Why?

0:49:18.2 Because I know that if I lay down on the bed or sit on the couch or do whatever, well then I’m not going to do that next thing. I don’t watch any TV at all, for the most part, when I’m on the road.

0:49:28.0 And the way my mind works is this, really simple, it’s I always say to myself, “I haven’t earned the right to do the ‘fun things’ until I’ve done the necessary things.”

And so once I’ve done the majors, then I have earned the right to do those other things. 0:49:47.3 Some people might say, “Well gee, that doesn’t sound really fun.” No, no, no it’s a lot of fun. I mean, I lead a great life because of the fact that I really believe in that philosophy of the one thing right and earning the right to do the next thing and having clear priorities.

0:50:01.0 And for me, exercise is one of those every single day. Learning is one of those every single day, because I’ve got to stay ahead of the curve, right? And just not wasting any time, man. I just don’t want to turn into mush. 0:50:10.6 And a lot of people when they travel, they really turn into mush. 0:50:14.3

Jordan: 0:50:14.7 Yeah, I’m taking this to heart. I can relate. I can admit myself I can use a little more discipline when on the road. But that is a good perspective. Honestly, it is a privilege to travel and speak and I do it a lot less than you do. I hear where you’re coming from. I like it. 0:50:30.8 Let me ask you this, Marcus, what is the best keynote that you’ve ever heard?

Marcus: 0:50:39.5 Brene Brown.

Jordan: Inbound?

Marcus: 0:50:43.7 Brene Brown, Inbound, this past year. She spoke – it was, I think it’s called, “Into the Wilderness” or something like that. It was freakin’ unbelievable, Dude. Un. Be. Lievable amazing.

She is – she gets it, man. She understands communication at this deepest level and makes connections at their deepest level, even in front of an audience of 20,000. 0:51:10.1 I think Brene Brown is a goddess of speaking and communication.

Jordan: 0:51:14.5 Alright, we’re going to Google it, we’re going to find a clip. I’d heard as much. I heard some rumours but I haven’t actually seen a clip. We’ll have to check it out. 0:51:23.9 What one book has impacted you the most?

Marcus: 0:51:29.2 Oldie but goodie here, How to Win Friends and Influence People. I think it’s probably the best personal development book ever read. Excuse me, written.

Jordan: 0:51:35.9 Simple. Everybody knows what it is. Simple. Worth taking off the shelf and giving it another re-read.

0:51:42.9 Second to last question, if you could do it all over again what one piece of advice would you have grabbed yourself by the shoulders and done everything within your power to ingrain in yourself in 2008?

Marcus: 0:51:57.0 Oh, in 2008.

Jordan: Yup. What could have made this journey easier for you, Marcus?

Marcus: 0:52:09.5 Yeah, yeah. I’m – this is an interesting one. I think I would have learned earlier the power of ‘no’.

Jordan: 0:52:23.4 Constraints.

Marcus: 0:52:22.8 Yes. The power of no. Because as I – what happened was, as I attained a little bit of momentum, more opportunities came my way and I just thought – I wanted to say yes to everything.

0:52:38.9 But the happiest day in the life of a business isn’t when you know who you are, it’s when you know who you’re not. 0:52:45.8

And when you know who you’re not, you also know who you don’t serve and what you don’t do. Because that’s the stuff that leads to the stress, the frustrations and the headaches. Right? And so when we let go of those things, man, and we release them…phew, it’s powerful.

Jordan: 0:52:58.2 Man, there is nothing heavier than being on the 80 yard line of a task or project that you’re coming to realize wasn’t actually worth your time but you’re still obligated to complete. That’s an unpleasant feeling. I’m totally with you on that.

0:53:17.7 And the final interview of the day, Marcus, I ask every single guest this question and I want to hear your perspective. 0:53:23.4 Marcus Sheridan, in your opinion, are entrepreneurs born or bred?

Marcus: 0:53:30.8 Oh man, I definitely would lean towards they are bred over time. Based on what they read, what they consume and who they become through this quest of living and personal development. And I think 80/20 probably.

Jordan: 0:53:50.8 Fair enough. You’re in the – you’re safely in the majority on this question. But I’m always interested to hear everybody’s perspective.

0:53:57.6 Normally I ask people where can listeners go to learn more. In your case, the best place that they can go is to come to the PM Grow Summit in San Diego at the end of January.

But if, between now and then, they want to learn a little bit more about what you’re up to, where would you direct them?

Marcus: 0:54:13.1 Yeah, you know, you can email me if you want, if you’re listening to this. It’s Marcus@TheSalesLion.com and you can also find me at TheSalesLion.com or get, They Ask You Answer. It’s pretty dang good, I think you’ll love it if you read it. Or listen to it on audible.

Jordan: 0:54:31.7 Well, I have not listened to it, that’s worthwhile. I’ve read it in the paperback.

Marcus: 0:54:36.0 Well it’s not my voice, which sucks. And trust me, the next time I do a book, I’ll 0:54:41.0 [Inaudible] in the contract. But it’ll be a little easier to consume for some folks that way.

Jordan: 0:54:45.6 Yeah. No doubt about it. Well man, I’m so pumped to see you in January. It’s going to be great. I appreciate you taking on the time today, and I appreciate you pursuing your passion and spreading the good word. Man, you’re doing great work out there. See you in January, Marcus.

Marcus: Thanks brother, can’t wait to see you, Jordan, and the rest of the attendees. WE’re going to have a great, great couple of days.

Jordan: No doubt about it, talk soon.