EP. 048 CRM for the Independent Consultant with Reuben Swartz

Feb 10, 2022
 
 

As a business owner who is balancing running your business with delivering for clients, I know you’re walking a fine line when you choose what processes and systems to implement. You’ve got to decide which tools are worth the overhead (time-wise and financially) because they’ll make your life easier and help your business scale. And, at the same time, you want to avoid going overboard by over-engineering your processes when a simple spreadsheet will do.

So, I wanted to bring on an expert in this space to help you sort out. 

My guest today, Reuben Swartz, shares his behind-the-scenes insights from his experience developing a CRM specifically for the independent consultant.

Listen in to learn more about when's the best time for an independent consultant to set up a CRM solution, examples of mistakes that are made when managing a pipeline, and some trends that he's seeing in the independent consulting world using the data from Mimiran.

Learn more about:  

  • [02:09] Meet our Guest, Reuben Swartz 
  • [07:22] How the CRM, Mimiran, was developed
  • [11:45] When is the best time to get started with a CRM tool in your IC business and why
  • [17:41] The difference between the business development process of an IC vs a large corporation
  • [26:59 ] The common mistakes that IC’s are making with their pipeline and the management of it.
  • [32:01] The current lead generation trends that are working for IC’s 

 

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FULL TRANSCRIPT

**note: This is an automated transcript, so please ignore spelling errors and grammar mistakes*

 

00:02

Welcome to the Grow Your Independent Consulting Business podcast. I'm Melisa Liberman, a fellow IC and business coach. On this podcast, I teach you to become a consistently booked independent consultant without becoming a pushy salesperson or working 24/7. If I can do it, you can too, listen on to find out how. Welcome back to the podcast today, I'm really excited to share with you an interview that I did with Ruben Swartz. I met him recently on LinkedIn, I love networking on LinkedIn, just meeting new people, having virtual coffee chats with them, and just really getting a good understanding of how they became independent consultants or somehow live in this world of independent consulting. And Reuben, and I really hit it off, we both have such a passion for serving the independent consultant in different ways. And he really impressed me with the software that he has created. It's a CRM solution specific for solo, independent consultants. And so, I'm really excited to share the conversation that he and I had with you today, we talked about so much, including when's the best time for an independent consultant to set up a CRM solution? What's the difference between CRM solutions for independent consultants versus, you know, just those other use cases for the use of CRMs that we're used to hearing about when we're in corporate. So, what's the difference between your pipeline, for example, as an independent consultant, and a normal pipeline for others who are selling services, and he gave us some really good examples about mistakes that are made when managing a pipeline, and trends that he's seeing in the independent consulting world. So, I'm excited to share this interview with you. And let's go ahead and dive in. Okay, Rubin, I am so thrilled to have you on the podcast today. We met a few weeks ago, on LinkedIn. And we both share such a passion for independent consultants. In fact, you've taken your passion to the level of creating a CRM solution specific to independent consultants and solo consultants. And so that's why I wanted to have you on the podcast today to talk all about how you see the pipeline and business development best practices for independent consultants and how the CRM that you've built fit into that. So, thank you for joining us, and I would love for you to start off by introducing yourself.

 

02:49

Well, Melisa, thanks for having me. I'm Ruben sports. I am the founder of memoranda. It is sort of like the anti CRM, for solo consultants who love serving clients, but hate the sales and marketing part of things, find it maybe a little bit achy. I'm also the host and chief nerd on the sales for nerd’s podcast. And we're gonna have Melisa on there too. So make sure you catch both episodes.

 

03:10

Oh, that's great. Yeah, we're doing a podcast swap today. So it's so much fun. I have to tell you, just on a personal note, we met on LinkedIn, like I was saying a minute ago, and my father and grandfather happened to also be named Rubin, which is not a common name. So I felt such a kinship to you when we first met each other, just from that common thing that

 

03:34

we had. Yeah, the universe is telling us something.

 

03:37

That's right, exactly. So, Rubin, let's dive in more and tell me how did you get into creating a CRM app that's tailored to independent consultants?

 

03:47

Well, I hope you don't mind if I bore your listeners with a little bit of a story, because it's a pretty convoluted story, which involves me saying several times the world does not need another CRM, do we really want to go down this path? Yes, let's hear it. Okay, so I'm a technical guy, software guy. And I accidentally started a sales and marketing consulting firm, helping giant companies with their sales and marketing, which is really odd, because it's not really my mindset. It was just that that was the kind of software I had been working on. And so, I started doing that. And I was trying to act like these big companies have a big company, website, big company, CRM, big company, sales process, tradeshow booth, etc., etc. And it was, it was pretty awful. Just didn't fit well. It didn't feel authentic to me. But I was trying to make myself do it, like, oh, I got to put on my big boy pants and go do the sales and marketing routine. And over time, I realized that there are a lot of things that might work really well. If you are running a 10,000 person or 500-person sales team, right half those people aren't going to be there in a year or two years. That doesn't matter. You just keep hiring new people and the right people float to the top and so on. If you're in business for yourself really doesn't work very well, because you want to be there in a couple of years, right? You don't want to just burn yourself out trying to do things that don't feel natural and authentic to you. So over time, I learned to actually just be a little bit more of myself. The irony was, I already knew this stuff that I needed. For the most part, I'm not trying to denigrate sales as a profession, there's a lot of stuff to learn and master, and you can always get better at it. But the basic idea of hey, let's just be curious about the prospect’s problems. And if we're the right people to solve them, we can learn more and go solve them. Or if we're not, we'll send with people who are like, that's not exactly rocket science. But I was trying, I got all wrapped up and trying to impersonate some of the people that I encountered who were very successful salespeople. And of course, Salesforce was the tool that everybody was started using. And I started using it. And it was it's a really phenomenal tool. If you need something like that the way I kind of think of it now is like, sometimes you need a frickin Space Shuttle if you want to get to orbit. And if that's what you need, you should do that. And there's people who need that. And there's others of us who need something more like a bicycle. And one of the things that always bugged me after I got better at writing proposals that people could actually read and understand and say, yes, let's do this. But I was sending them to really busy people. And half the time. That's okay, sorry, that meeting to discuss the proposal just got rescheduled. And then I was stuck in that loop of voicemails, like, hey, just wonder if you had any questions about that proposal? And you're like, Should I leave another voicemail or not? Just felt really awkward. And I thought, well, wait a second. I'm a tech guy. If I could put the proposal in the cloud, I would at least know if somebody was reading it. And so being silly, I was like, oh, let me hack something up and try this out. And I remember getting that email called the prospect of hey, I'm so glad you called Ruben. I was just reading your proposal. And we discussed it made a couple tweaks. And he said, hey, when you get the chance, send me a new version. And I'll be ready to get started. I was like, Well, if you go back and look at it, I've made those changes in that section already. He's like, Oh, wow, that's really cool. So I didn't even have a signature, he just clicked the button that said, I accept this proposal. And we got to work. And I wasn't even thinking of it as a sales tool. It was just like; Let's spend as little time on the paperwork as possible. So we can both get to the project, which is what we both care about. And so I was telling some people about this and like, whoa, that's really cool. Can I have that. And I was like, oh, maybe I'm onto something here. I'm a tech, I look kind of like this. So, let's turn this little tool I built for myself into an application. And at this point, I wasn't necessarily focused on solar consultants. In fact, a lot of the companies that came to me asking for this, we're larger companies, and they had money and they were willing to pay for customizations and so on, I thought I was really onto something. But the problem was, they have a different set of needs and support from what I really wanted to do and what I wanted to focus on, and also where I was at mentally, right, like, my mission was really to help other people like me, who didn't really have a sales and marketing background. They have a skill; they love serving people. And they need to figure out how to do the sales and marketing authentically and effectively. So the nice thing was my customers told me this, because the big companies would get frustrated after a year or two, and then they would build something custom or go back to their spreadsheets or whatever. Whereas the solo people were like, Ruben, this is amazing. But you know what else I need? And I remember people telling me, well, now that the end of my sales process is so great. What can I do to get more leads in the front of my funnel? And I thought, well, gosh, I don't know. I'm a proposal person, right? I don't know anything about lead generation. But let me look at your website. And let me look at the tools out there. And I realized a couple things. One, most consultants have terrible, terrible websites. And I'm certainly someone who has been guilty of that your website has one job, it's to get you leads. And if it's not doing this job, you got to fix it. But a lot of people, they're still in that phase where they're like, well, nobody buys off the web, which is true, right? You're not trying to get someone to buy, you're just trying to start the relationship. But you got to have something that converts a visitor to a lead to a conversation if your website's doing its job. So what I could see right away, when I looked at someone else's website, it's so much easier to see right then then when you have it for your own website. And you think it's all amazing. So that was really helpful. And then I also realized that the tools out there, again, were not built for this tribe. So you've got tons and tons of enterprise level tools, where you got a gang of sales reps, just pounding the phones all day, and they can make it up in numbers and volume. And then you got a ton of tools for people who just need an email address. And then they can do marketing automation. But for these independent consultants, they don't have a huge lead volume. They don't need or want a huge lead volume. But they got to have a conversation with these people. But they're not sitting there on the phone 810 hours a day. And I realized, I've got this way to create content online and share it and no one someone's reading it. Let's make it so you can offer lead magnets on your site in a way that's going to be really helpful for these independent consultants in their prospects. And that was really cool. People were like, wow, my website's finally getting me leads this. I didn't think it was possible. And then I put them in my spreadsheet, or I put them in my Salesforce or whatever, and I do my CRM II stuff. And then when it's time I use memory to send a proposal You know, I really liked memory, but I hate my spreadsheet, notebooks, sticky notes, Salesforce, Soho, whatever, and nothing against any of those other tools. They're just not necessarily a great fit when you're an independent consultant. And they're like, can you please make memory and do the part in the middle? And this is where I get to be a bonehead yet again, because I was like, the world doesn't need another CRM. And who would I need to do that? And meanwhile, I'm trying out all these other CRMs, because I'm like, There's got to someone's gotta have done this already. Yeah. And I couldn't find the thing that I needed. That would work for me, that would make it easy for an introvert who doesn't really like sailing, but but really, actually likes conversations? How do I make it as easy as possible to do that? So finally, I got so frustrated, I was like, guess what my customers are, right? Let's go do this. And that's the long story about how I created a CRM designed specifically for these independent consultants. And it's got a bunch of other cool things that you won't see in a traditional CRM, and a ton of stuff that is in traditional serums that you don't have to bother with. But we don't have to necessarily go into all those technical details.

 

10:59

Yeah, that's fabulous. So evolved over time from helping to facilitate collaborative proposals that sounds like and then you put the front end on in terms of lead generation and capturing right, the attention of the consulting buyer for that independent consultant. And then you built up the middle, which really connects the two together. That's right, how much fun yeah, how much fun Ruben, I love your passion around this, too. I have an account with your tool now. But before that, I've set up a lot of different CRMs and then just realize that they're more headache than they're worth, even though I love technology, they seem to be more headache than they're worth. And so, I know for me early in my business, and for my clients, especially, a lot of times a spreadsheet is where they start out. And so I'm just curious, as you think about the evolution of someone's independent consulting business, what's your advice for when, when it's correct? Or when is the best time for someone to get started with a CRM tool like yours?

 

11:59

Sure, and I guess everybody's using a CRM, whether it's your own head, your sticky notes, your notebook, your spreadsheet, your Salesforce, your memory, and whatever, you've got one or more CRMs going on? And I think the right thing is, is it the right thing for you. And as you point out, that might change over time, right? Like I've had folks who end up they grow their teams, and they migrate to Salesforce, and they're happiest clams, because that's what they need at that point. Yeah. And I'm happy for them that that's a sign of success for me and, and the tool, right, they were able to grow into something on the next stage. Now, I think that you should have a CRM in place before you start your consulting business. But that's always not necessarily the easiest investment for someone to make. That's why I have a free edition, I have a Starter Edition. But the idea is, there's a bunch of conversations that you probably want to have when you're starting. And being intentional and systematic about it will compress that launch phase and make it so much better when you kind of you can bolt out of the gate, knowing what your positioning is, knowing who your ideal clients are having some referrals coming in already. Versus and there's nothing wrong. I think the typical approach is people start with a spreadsheet, there's nothing wrong with that. It's just not going to be as efficient as using a dedicated tool that's going to help you stay on top of these relationships.

 

13:21

Mm hmm. Yeah. Especially as you get so focused on delivery for clients, a tool like membrane can really help you to remember what you need to be doing to run your business and to be ahead of your business development cycle.

 

13:36

That's absolutely right. And that was one of the things that plagued me constantly, it was like, you'd get super busy with a project or projects, all hands-on deck. And I knew that I was supposed to keep up with the business development, but over time, it would just fall by the wayside. Hmm, yeah. Partly because there were too many barriers to doing it. And projects would end. And it's like, oh, crap, yeah, what's going on with my pipeline, it's all dried up, right, and you kind of go through the cycle. And I think there's always going to be ebbs and flows in your business. And sometimes you're super busy. And sometimes you're less busy, that's okay. But the idea is, we want to keep that momentum going at all times. And if you don't have any client work and your full-time business development, obviously, there's going to be a lot more activity going on. But one, we want the tool to do some of the work for you. So getting you leads, for example, that you might not get off your website. Otherwise, that's a huge advantage. And then reminding you who are the key people that you need to talk to, because a lot of the things that I realized that that I struggled with was not, oh, gosh, I hate talking to people. It's, I have this huge list of people and I'm not sure who I should talk to next. And so I end up not talking to anybody, or I would stare at the list too long and get all aggravated. Versus hey, here are the five people that I have to talk to this week, or at least call and I can find time to do that. And then it kind of works in a virtuous cycle. Because a lot of what happens when you feel like during the famine phase, you start acting more salesy more desperate, even subconsciously, and taking on work and taking meetings with people who aren't really your ideal clients, versus when you feel like your pipeline is really full, and that it's steady and more stuff will come. There's no pressure on any individual meeting, it's really easy to say, Hey, you're not the right fit, you should really talk to my friend, Melisa, or whatever. And there's no stress around pricing, you're going to price what you're worth, because you're not scared. So a lot of good things happen. We have this virtuous cycle going versus the vicious cycle that can happen. And I've certainly experienced both of them.

 

15:38

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. One of the things I love to teach my clients about, and I've shared on this podcast is what I call the RAM method. It's really just setting up a habit of reconnecting with people that are already in your existing network, attracting new people, and meeting new people. So essentially, what you're talking about is taking that kind of method, which can be done in, you know, quick hits during the course of the week, and putting it into a CRM into a tool like yours that really reminds you what you need to be doing keeps everything organized, so that you're not having to guess who the people are that you're talking to, or who should be bubbling up or who you should be following up with. It's all right there and organized for you.

 

16:21

That's right. I think most of us when we're actually talking to the people we love talking to because we have passionate about the stuff that we do. And we're talking to other people who have similar passions. Like it's all easy, it doesn't feel like sales doesn't feel like networking, it just you use the word fun earlier, which I think is really important. Because I used to frickin hate all the sales and marketing and networking, it was awful. It was like this is the necessary evil. I've got to just plow through this and be strong to get to the work that I love. It's like no, all of this stuff should align together in one mission. And you should be having fun. I'm not saying all the time, no one has fun all the time that would be meaningful. But in general, what we think of as business development should be fun, because it's all about the thing that you care about.

 

17:05

Yeah, which is really talking to other humans, getting an understanding what their problems are, and figuring out if you can solve them or like you said, refer them to someone who can. That's what we do as consultants, right? So really thinking about sales in that way can be so different than, like you said, when you're approaching it as a necessary evil. It's a very different energy with which you're approaching people and having a conversation, then I'm here to figure out if you have a problem and help you to solve it. That's a very different energy with which you're doing the same kind of thing. Business Development. Absolutely, Rubin. So you've been in sales and marketing in different capacities, as you described it. When we first started talking, tell me a little bit about what you noticed to be the difference between what a more traditional kind of, you know, pipeline process would look like business development process would look like for larger organizations, versus what you see as best practices for independent consultants.

 

18:05

Sure. And we could probably have, like a whole book about this. But I think one thing is when you're in a large organization, you can average and whatnot, across lots of people. And you'll notice how hard it is even for these big teams with lots of data to forecast accurately. Right? Everyone's stressed out, oh, we're gonna miss our numbers. Oh, we made our numbers. Oh, we didn't make our numbers, right. Like, it's hard. It's really hard, even at scale, even when you have a lot of information to do this, right. And I think the big thing is, when you're by yourself, you don't have that much information. Right? You don't have well, out of the 100 people, I'm pretty sure 10 of them are going to make quota or whatever, right? It's just here are the people I'm talking to here are the prospects, right? And one of the mistakes I made when I started was trying to model the enterprise pipeline in my business, and pretending like, oh, you know, these people sound interested. So they're 30% or whatever. And like, Oh, look at these millions of dollars in my pipeline. And really, I was just kind of going through sales meeting theater, because that's what my prospects were doing. And they were doing it better than I was. But even there, there was a lot of theater involved, right? It's like, Hey, I thought you told me this was gonna close. Why isn't it closed yet? Oh, it's gonna close. Don't worry, right? It's the whole song and dance that you go through in the enterprise. Right. And so, for a solo person, I think there's a couple things. One, you get to slash have to define your own positioning. Mm hmm. Right? When you're the sales guy at IBM or whatever, they hand you the sales playbook. And that's how you're supposed to act. Right? When it's your own business. You have this superpower, which is defining your own positioning. And most people are not using their superpower. They're so scared of it. And that is really the big thing that makes everything easier or harder. Yeah, usually when it comes to positioning the promise people are too broad. And the only way that I was able to trick myself out of this because I had the same reaction, well, I can help all these people, and why would I limit my market and blah, blah, blah, even though, like, rationally I know it doesn't make sense because I coach other people on this stuff, right. But somehow, when it comes to our own mind, I think we're wired by evolution to be concerned about what we perceive as scarcity. But I think we can turn that around and reframe it as instead of small versus large market because even the small, tiny niche market is way more than I can handle as a solo person anyway. Do I want sales and marketing to be easy or hard? Yeah. And most of us want it to be easy, right? We get those that call from the great client, hey, we want to do another project. Right? Like, it's so easy. It doesn't feel like selling there's no, it's just there are the perfect referral. We love those. Yeah. But why do we make it so hard on ourselves? To get more of that kind of business? Why do we leave it up to chance? Right, let's be intentional about defining our positioning and our mission so that the right people will gravitate to us. And then the other people who aren't the right fit will go elsewhere and not waste our time. Right, whether it's a bunch of sales meetings, or God forbid, they become a client, and things get really painful. Yeah. So I think that's probably the biggest thing. When you're by yourself. You define your positioning, you define who you help and who you don't. And you can always take a client, who's not in your perfect inner circle, that's okay, too. But, like, let's be intentional about attracting the right best folks who love working with us and love paying us and we love working for

 

21:27

Yeah, yeah, I think that's so key. Because I also noticed and working with clients that we want to latch on to all the things we could do almost to provide this really big, I don't know if you ever eat at the Cheesecake Factory, I haven't been there in ages, but it's like their old menu, right? It was like 59 pages of pretty much Chinese food all the way to Caesar salads, like every and everything in between, versus just getting really simple on what it is that you offer, and becoming sought after for that type of work. And then the way I like to describe it to my clients sometimes is and then you can always have a secret menu like they do at a Starbucks where people can order off of that menu, but you're not the one, putting it out there and creating a really clear message about what it is that you do and how you do it. And why you do it. And what results are created by what you do as a consultant when you're able to really narrow that down and have that crisp, clear message. It can be such a differentiator, right, because then you're creating your own space versus having to compete against the boutique firms and the larger consulting firms that are providing that wider message that we can do anything, right, and they're just standing behind the name that they've created, versus having a very specific type of problem that they solve.

 

22:44

When also think it's different. If you're a Cheesecake Factory, or Deloitte or some other large company, it's okay for you to have Messier branding. When you're solo, it's not right. Like if you're, if you've got the taco stand the taco truck, you got to make really good tacos, you can't try to compete with the Cheesecake Factory, it just doesn't, you can't possibly do it. And if you try, you're going to end up really frustrated. So I think that's, that's right on point. And that's one of the reasons there's actually a positioning wizard built into the CRM, because, again, this is a CRM for people who maybe haven't really gone through a positioning exercise before. And I like to take it one step further and say, you know, positioning is kind of like your marketing and all that. And it's really important. But underneath that inside of you, there's a mission, like you're here to do something. Yeah. What is that, and let's make sure that we're focused on that as much as possible. Because that's going to one make you alive and feel more excited, and people are going to feel that energy and want to work with you. And then a lot of other people are going to say, okay, great, you know, you believe in whatever it is, you know, helping nursing homes, operate more compassionately are something the people who care about that are going to want to join in your mission, and it's going to make everything easier. And the other thing that took me forever to get through my Why might I think I understood it mentally. But in like God, it was hard was like, Well, I want to be able to get all kinds of referrals. But if when your general nobody frickin refers, yeah, that's the thing that people have to understand. You got to have that specific spot, not just on your website and LinkedIn for the prospects, but for the referral partners to say, hey, if you're a skier and you need rehab, you go to this doctor. Yeah, right. Or if you're the old lady who's in a walker, and you need your knee replaced, you go to this other doctor, and everyone will go to the appropriate place. And we can do that same thing, because we're more like the single doctor than we are the Cheesecake Factory.

 

24:42

That's right. Yeah, absolutely. And just being making it so clear what you do so that people know how to refer I think that's such a good mental construct to be into. I know your CRM tool, memory and helps people literally plug and play kind of like the Mad Libs. I know If you had those when you were growing up as a kid, but it's kind of like the Mad Libs, where you're putting in different adjectives and nouns and verbs, and then it creates that initial positioning statement and initial kind of marketing for you as a result of those adlib statements, which can be really valuable. What I also find is, you know, to your point earlier, after you produce something like that, whether it's on your own or through Mimiron, as a consultant, being really comfortable with going to market without that you are the expert in this area, and not talking yourself out of that being so scary that you're honed in on one thing, and therefore leaving other opportunities out on the, you know, on the table.

 

25:44

And I would even go one step further and say, we don't just want to leave them out on the table, we want to actively discourage Yeah, we want to make it seem like, you know, the 1% of the people who are ideal clients are gonna be like, Oh, finally, I found Melisa, this is awesome. Someone who gets it. And like 99% of the rest of people are like, Melisa is crazy what you're talking about because they don't get it. And they're not in the tribe. In that way. Nobody wastes their time and energy.

 

26:06

Yeah, they say if you're not doing marketing, right, unless you're repelling people.

 

26:11

Yeah. And that's one of the things that I think about when thinking about lead magnets, a magnet has an attractive and a repulsive pole, right? They have to be of equal strength, you can't have a magnet that only attracts. And so if you're trying to appeal to everybody, there's no power. But when you're like, This is the thing for this tiny niche, and everyone else can go do whatever. That's when you get really interesting conversations, really great projects, and you get to do more cool stuff. And I think that's, you know, this kind of all wines from that thread you started about how is this different being a solo versus being part of a big company? I think that's the biggest thing that underlies everything, but it's kind of hidden, it's like the part of the iceberg below the water that we don't always think about, but it makes all the difference in the world. Yeah, absolutely.

 

26:57

Ruben, let's switch gears slightly and tell me as you see, you know, people using your tool and data flowing through your tool, tell me what are the two or three mistakes that you observe with solo consultants in their pipeline and the way they're managing it? Well, I

 

27:16

think we just spent a bunch of time on number one, which is not having strong positioning. Yeah. So by all means, get that done, we kind of beat that horse to death. So moving on from that, I think the next big thing, the next big, low-hanging fruit, and part of what the tool is really designed to help us with because I struggle with it is keeping up with the people you already know. Yeah, right. Like people spend so much energy trying to get new leads, new, whatever. And there's nothing wrong with that. It's like, well, how often do you talk to your past clients? How often you talk to the people who referred you business in the past couple years? Do you even know who they are? And how much business they refer? Right? Those people that you talk to that maybe aren't really business partners, but they like know someone who knows someone or you just love talking to them? How often do you actually have a conversation? And if the answer is, well, they're on my newsletter, right? Which is fine. Like, there's nothing wrong with a newsletter but is there's no replacement. And I say, this is like the world's most awkward, introverted person, there's no replacement for human-to-human conversation, that is the fundamental building block of human relationships. And so that's the next low-hanging fruit. Like, make sure you're talking to the people that you already know, like, how many people in your LinkedIn network, know what the heck you're doing, if you just started a consulting company? How many people know that and know exactly who your ideal client is? Right? You're going to go spend a whole bunch of money on Google ads, or Facebook campaigns or whatever, but you haven't told the people who already know like, and trust you, what you're up to go do that and do it again and again and stay in touch with those people. Those are the top two things that people should do. And the thing that's funny is, they're actually like, really easy and fun. They're not rocket science. You don't have to be like a sales and marketing person. You just have to be yourself. Yeah.

 

28:59

Yeah. I think that there's such a mental hurdle that I oftentimes find with keeping that network fresh. So many times I think, you know, a lot of it is based on fear of rejection of some sort, or fear of failure. And so we start creating these stories in our head about, well, it's not the right time to reach out to that person, or, Oh, I know, they're really busy, or I don't think they could really help me. I've kind of sometimes people say to me, you know, I've exhausted the close network that I have. And so for you, you know, as you're describing this, I think it's so key is finding unique ways to keep that, you know, we're not recommending I don't think you are right, we're not recommending here just to call people up and ask them for work every month. It's not about that. It's about really finding ways to create a mutually valuable relationship right and to keep that conversation fresh every you know, every few months, or whatever the cadence would be, so that you're providing value to them and you're top of mind as their Thinking about whether they have something they need that you could solve, or they're able to tell their neighbor with. There's no even business connection necessarily. They're just happened to be neighbors and right are talking about having a problem that you solve. And you're the first person who comes to mind getting over that mental hurdle. Yeah.

 

30:18

Yeah, I think that's a great point. Yeah. I mean, I've had so many great conversations, so many people. Hey, I'm so glad you called it was so nice to catch up. Yeah. Or you do a good job of keeping in touch. Some people say you do a good job. Great, great job of keeping in touch. I need that. Right. I know, I know how you're doing it. And I need to do that, too. Yeah. And every once in a while, there's someone who's like, you know what, this relationship has run its course we don't need to talk again. And that's okay, too. But instead of sort of having it out there in the nebulous, gray area, it's like, I know, some of it was like, Gosh, I really don't like this person. Yeah, maybe they think they don't really like me or mutually, or it's just like, you know, of all the time I have, I don't want to spend it on this person. Because I just don't, I don't get the right energy from them. That's okay, too. But I know that. And so yeah, every once in a while you will have people who really do exhaust their networks. But for the most part, they don't they just look at a list and like, oh, I don't have any prospects in here, right. And so then they say, Oh, I've exhausted my network versus these people might be sources of strength and wisdom and other ways. They know people, they're fun, etc. And sometimes your network is going to change over time, right? Especially if you're kind of going upmarket and getting more and more specialized, and dealing with higher levels of clients and so on. It's okay for that network to evolve. But I think we should really try to stay in touch with the people that we already know, not just from a business perspective, I'm in the business is worthwhile, too. But I think just from a social fabric perspective, your life is going to be better.

 

31:48

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I think the exhausting of the network is, is a red herring. In most cases, like you're saying, I have so many questions for you, Ruben. But I want to make sure we're respectful of your time as well. Maybe we could just talk about trends that you're seeing that are working right now for solo consultants to generate leads?

 

32:09

Well, it's funny, because I think in many ways, it's the reverse of the mistakes we talked about, right? It's having that strong positioning, building and nurturing your network, having great conversations, that's gonna get you a lot of referrals. And then being able to get leads from LinkedIn, from your website, etc. Because you've got that strong positioning. And hopefully, you've got some awesome lead magnets that are really helpful to your ideal prospect. That all leads to good conversations. And I think a lot of people were able to kind of skate by on the rubber chicken networking dinners, prior to COVID. It's like, well, I go to my BNI, or I go to whatever, once a week, and there's nothing wrong with that, if that's working for you, that's great. Just keep doing it. But then a lot of that stuff just went away, right. And so we've got to be more intentional about, we can't sort of count on other people constructing that stuff for us. Now we can do things with other folks where, you know, people get together and they, they help each other. But that's all kind of, we have to pick up the baton and run with it ourselves to generate leads. And I think in some ways, that's scary for people, especially if you're like, Well, I go to BNI. Or I go to wherever, once a weekend, and my business is great. And now it's not. But at the same time, I think it's really empowering. Because we kind of get to, to look out across whatever our market is, right? It might still be local people, depending on what it is we do. But maybe it's not. Maybe it's across the country or across the world. And there's other interesting people that we can connect with, that we would never have met if we had to be in the same room. Same rubber chicken dinner where maybe our network is kind of exhausted every week.

 

33:47

Yeah, absolutely. I think, you know, on one hand, to your point, what I've seen is those people that had a good structure going before COVID, and it went away, it felt so kind of like they lost everything like I don't have a way to generate leads anymore. But for most people, it's now transitioned into and some of them are still living in that story. So got to work through that, right. But for most people, I think it's opened up such an opportunity of being able to connect, being able to get creative about how you bring decisions makers together, whether it's networking, whether it's hosting executive roundtables, whether it's speaking at conferences, it's so much more accessible now because there's so much less travel and kind of all of the overhead that comes with bringing together and getting connected to whoever your ideal client would be. Yeah.

 

34:41

Something else that's really come out of all this is people are a lot more comfortable on video. Yes, right. We all kind of hate seeing and hearing ourselves. But at this point, we're all kind of so used to it that it's not such a big deal. And so that's another arrow in your quiver. Like put some of your videos out there, if you're an expert, let's have at least a little bit of video on your website and your lead magnets and your social profile, etc. You can get just so much more of a sense of who somebody is from a brief video versus, you know, reading a bunch of generic crap on a website or even well-written copy on our website doesn't convey quite as much who they are right out. I have a little thing at the end of my proposals. That's that's me thanking the prospect. And, you know, let me know if you have any questions like the same thing I would say if I was there in person, right. And I had to force myself to do it because it was so uncomfortable to be at the camera, and I felt so dorky, but people love it, because it's like, emphasizes that human-to-human connection. So take advantage of video, even if you feel like it's painful.

 

35:41

That's such great advice, Ruben. Such great advice. It's such a creative way to make your proposals stand out.

 

35:47

Yeah. And you can do it anywhere. And I think the thing that for me is like, well, I don't necessarily like how I look or I sound but everyone I talked to every client knows what I look like and what I sound like, like, I'm not fooling anybody, like I let is. Let's just put it out there. Right,

 

35:59

right, exactly. That's so good. Reuben, anything else? We didn't cover a lot of topics today. But we did make a lot of really good depth into the topics that we did you and I could talk for hours. But tell me, is there anything else that you wanted to share today that we haven't yet covered?

 

36:15

Gosh, I mean, there's so much stuff like you said, I think we could probably keep this conversation going and going and going and bore everyone to tears. But I think you hit on something very near the beginning, where you talked about having fun. And I think if there's one thing you take away from this episode if you're listening when you're clear about your mission and what you're trying to do, it feels like you're having fun, right? Like climbing Mount Everest for people who like to climb Mount Everest is really fun. Yeah, I would hate it because I'd be cold and miserable and all that, but, but that's not my mission. Right? Right. And when you're on your mission when you're engaged in locked in like that, it's fun, you have great energy. And all your sales or marketing stuff is really just an extension of that. It's a part of that it's not something separate, it should be all feel like part of the same mission. And then you get to have fun doing it. And then you have good vibes and you have better conversations and good things happen in a virtuous cycle.

 

37:04

Yeah, that's fabulous. Thank you, Reuben, tell us where can independent consultants find you and learn more about Mimiron and what you're doing?

 

37:12

Sure, you can find me on LinkedIn. I don't know if I'm the only Ruben Swartz, but I'm I think you'll find me pretty easily there. You can find [email protected] EMI, EMI, Ra n.com. And also, at sales for nerds.io.

 

37:26

That's fabulous. And your podcasts. Yeah, listen to your podcasts that it's a great one for independent consultants as well. So that's great. Well, I appreciate you being here today Rubin I definitely encourage everyone to go check out Reuben's free trial and see if the non-CRM solution is a good fit for what you and you are doing in your consulting practice. So

 

37:50

yeah, thanks for having me, Melisa. And even if the CRM isn't the right fit for you, there's a bunch of other stuff there too, like proposal templates, ideas for lead magnets, ideas for helping you find your positioning, and so on. Yeah,

 

38:01

that's great. Well, thanks again, and I'm sure we'll talk again soon.

 

38:05

Thanks, Melisa.

 

38:08

Thanks for joining me this week on the Grow Your Independent Consulting Business podcast. If you like today's episode, I have three quick next steps for you. First, click Subscribe on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to make sure you don't miss future episodes. Next, leave me a review in your podcast app so other independent consultants can find it benefit to and finally to put the ideas from today's episode into action. Head over to Melisaliberman.com for the show notes and more resources to help you grow your consulting practice from your first few projects into a full-fledged business. See you next week.

 

 

 

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