Ian Brodie

Ian Brodie is the best-selling author of Email Persuasion and creator of Unsnooze Your Inbox - *the* guide to crafting engaging emails and newsletters that captivate your audience, build authority and generate more sales.



Mindset flip = more leads

Posted on 26th October 2016.

What's a “lead” to you?

When I speak to many people they fall into the trap of thinking a lead is someone who's ready to buy. So their lead generation goal is to get in contact with more people who are already ready to buy.

Sounds sensible. Shortest distance to a sale. Until you think it through.

A business deciding to try to connect with people who are already ready to buy is a bit like a man looking for a wife who decides his best bet is to try to meet brides-to-be on the eve of their wedding.

Sure, those brides-to-be are ready to get married. Just not to you.

They're ready to marry someone who's already built a relationship with them. Who initially met them when they weren't ready to get married, but who built a strong relationship with them over time.

Business isn't quite the same, of course. But the same principles apply 99% of the time.

People only buy high-value products and services when they've built a considerable degree of credibility and trust that what they're about to splash their hard-earned cash on will do what they need. And in the case of services, they need to be sure they can get on with the service provider too.

If the first time you come into contact with such a buyer is when they're already ready to buy it's a huge ask for you to build up enough credibility and trust in a short space of time so that they buy from you.

Chances are very high that by the time they're ready, someone else has built a strong relationship with them – just like with the bride and groom-to-be.

Unless your services are overwhelmingly better, it's far too risky to go with you. At best, they might delay their decision to check you out further. Even George Clooney would struggle, asking brides-to-be out on the eve of their wedding.

A much better strategy is to focus your efforts not on people ready to buy right now, but on people just becoming open to the idea that they need help. The equivalent of the bride or groom years ago when they were still single and “looking for love”.

It's a simple mindset shift, but it's a crucial one.

These are people who don't have such a strong pre-established relationship with anyone else. And since they're just discovering their problem or aspiration they're open to new ideas about how they might address it.: the perfect opportunity for you to connect with them and add value to them at the same time.

I'll show you how in tomorrow's email.



“I really have to apologise” said my brother…

Posted on 6th July 2016. Michael's Essay

I got a call from my brother Michael last week that began with the words “I really have to apologise”.

He'd just been digging around in our parents' loft and had found an old school essay book of his from when he was 13 and was rather embarrassed about the contents.

Essay number one was about him. Number two was about me…

“His hobbies include being lazy, being even lazier, sitting around doing nothing, sitting around watching the television…”

“Ian hates any strenuous work and has an allergy to hard work, homework, and any other work you could care to think of”.

Turns out there's not much difference between 16-year old me and 49-year old me then :)

Michael's apology wasn't necessary. He wasn't far from the truth.

Click here to find out why…



The BEST Coaching I Ever Got…

Posted on 17th March 2014.

Back when I was a young(ish) consultant working for Gemini Consulting I was lucky enough that my personal mentor was a very experienced marketer and business developer. He eventually went on to become head of Marketing and BD for Gemini globally.

I remember very clearly a discussion I had with him a few years into my career.

We were reviewing my performance appraisal for that year. I'd kind of hit my stride – had done really well and got great reviews. I was feeling pretty pleased with myself, so I wasn't expecting Kieron's question…

Click here to see what Kieron asked me and how it changed my career »



Dripping Blood, Sponges…and Something That Might be Holding You Back

Posted on 8th July 2013. Injury

Here's something that happened to me yesterday that was painful at the time (literally) but taught me a valuable lesson.

I was re-glazing one of our greenhouses and managed to walk into a sticky-out metal bit that the door runs along. Man it hurt. Nasty cut on the side of my head.

Five minutes later I do the exact same thing again. Cut on my forehead this time.

Fast forward 15 minutes and I walk into it again.

Luckily by this time, Kathy had spotted the blood dripping down my temple, asked me what on earth I'd done, and had taped a sponge over the offending sticky-out metal bit.

So this time no injury (well, just to my pride).

It's funny how with many things in life we keep making the same mistake again and again.

Marketing that just doesn't work, yet we keep on doing it. Arguments with co-workers or employees or family we just keep repeating.

We've all got blind spots. And sometimes it takes someone looking in from outside to spot them for us.

Unfortunately, in business, the evidence of those blind spots isn't quite as obvious as blood running down your forehead.

For others to spot our mistakes we need to open up to them. Tell them what we're doing. What results we're getting. What we're concerned about.

And that's tough.

What if they see through our veneer of competence? What if they think we're no good? And what if they tell us?

It's a big step to open up like that. But if you're not doing it, you're missing out. You're bound to have at least a couple of blind spots that are holding you back.

So find someone you can trust to open up to. A friend, business partner, significant other, coach, mentor. Or a group you can speak to regularly.

It'll make a big difference to your business.



Are You a Shining Light?

Posted on 4th July 2013.

Shining LightHave you ever noticed how some people just seem to stand out?

Tom Peters in the world of consulting for example. Whether you agree with everything he says or not, there's no doubt he makes a huge impact.

Charlie Green in the world of trust. Tom Searcy in the world of winning big deals.

These are people who have the courage to stand up and say what they believe in. What they think is the right way to do things in their field.

They don't just go with accepted practice. They push the boundaries.

They don't just say what people want to hear. They tell them what they need to hear.

Many businesses talk about differentiation. About having a USP.

But it's all just so many words unless you have the courage to stand up and share your message.

To be a shining light. A rallying point for others who come to feel the same way.

I'm not much of a fan of macho leadership. But I am a huge fan of courage. Courage to stand up for what you believe in.

Courage to say out loud “this is how it should be” and open yourself up for criticism.

I don't necessarily mean standing up for a big world changing agenda. I mean the issues your clients face day in, day out.

Are you out there showing them a better way? Or are you waiting for them to come asking for your advice (a quick hint: they're probably not coming).

In times like these many of our clients are desperately waiting for a shining light to lead the way.

It could be you.



Break Your Scarcity Mindset

Posted on 6th December 2012.

Scarcity MindsetYour scarcity mindset is hurting your sales.

No, not that scarcity mindset. Not the one that I'm sure you've heard lots about and shifted away from years ago.

Not the “there's not enough to go around, I need to hold tight to what's mine” mindset. I'm sure you're more into abundance than that sort of scarcity.

But there's another scarcity mindset many of us have. And it's far more insidious.

Click here to find out how to defeat this treacherous mindset >>



Intent Is More Important Than Technique

Posted on 18th December 2011. Roberto Giobbi

Intent is more important than technique

I first heard those words in 2006 from Mahan Khalsa, author of the excellent book Let's Get Real or Let's Not Play.

(Which, believe it or not is a book about selling consulting services).

A few years earlier I'd been working in Basel in Switzerland, doing some strategy work for a large pharmaceutical firm.

Back then my favourite pastime outside of work was magic. Not the “sequinned suit, girls jumping in and out of boxes” type. But close up magic – the sort done right under your nose that leaves you completely mystified.

I was pretty good (I had a lot of time to practice in hotel rooms working away from home so much). I'd performed professionally a few times in restaurants and at parties. And I wanted to take my skills to the next level.

It was never going to be a career option. Frankly, unless you're really, really good, it just doesn't pay well enough compared to consulting. But I wanted to be the best I could be.

I found out that Roberto Giobbi, famous magic author, inventor, collector, and one of the world's leading teachers, lived in Muttenz a short distance away from Basel. So I booked a lesson.

I remember my taxi pulling up at Roberto's house and studio one evening in the rain, and feeling both excited and apprehensive in equal measure at meeting someone whose work I'd read for so long and who I'd seen perform many times on DVD.

After looking around Roberto's studio and some of his collection of historical manuscripts and books we got down to work.

I did a short routine for him (a combination “ambitious card”, “Triumph” and “card to impossible location” if you're interested).

We then sat back and analysed the routine.

What I'd expected was to focus on my technique. Roberto is schooled in the “Spanish style” – complex yet artistic sleight of hand.

What we did was very different.

Roberto asked me what I was trying to achieve with my magic. What I wanted my audience to experience and to feel as a result.

Tough question. But a good one.

Was I trying to fool them? Amuse them? Astound them? Make them laugh? Give them a once in a lifetime experience of sheer wonder?

And who was I trying to be? A suave entertainer, a clown, a skilful cardsharp?

Roberto and I worked through these questions over a number of hours and a couple of drinks too. It was hard work. These were questions I'd never really thought about much before.

But it turns out Roberto was right. If your goal is to entertain your audience. If you're playing with them, rather than trying to outwit them – then they play nicely back.

Rather than your performance being you trying to impress them – to “make” them laugh, to “make” them like you – it becomes one where you work together with the audience to help them have a good time.

When they know they're in safe hands. That you're not trying to make fun of them or embarrass them. Then they can relax and enjoy the ride.

In magic, intent is more important than technique.

Though as Mahan would say – technique is still important. Clumsy technique spoils the illusion, breaks the spell.

But if your audience doesn't choose to join you. If it's you vs them rather than you with them – then all the technique in the world won't save you.

Marketing is like magic.

You must start with the right intent. Your goal must be to help your clients succeed, not merely to sell them your stuff. You with them not you vs them.

When your potential clients see your intent, they too can relax knowing they're in safe hands.

So before you go into any sales meeting, ask yourself the questions Roberto asked me. What are you trying to achieve? What do you want your clients to feel and experience?

Get that clear and you'll see a difference in how they react to you.

By the way, Roberto is still available for coaching if you're into magic and want to learn the “real work”. Go here for more details.



Do You Trust Me? Check Out My Results on the Trust Quotient Test…

Posted on 14th November 2011.

Charlie Green and Ian BrodieAsk any senior professional about the books that have had the most influence on them and The Trusted Advisor by David Maister, Charles H Green and Rob Galford is almost certain to be up their near the top of the list.

It was a landmark work – explaining why trust needs to be at the centre of any professional relationship – and how to earn it with your clients.

The good news for us fans of the book is that Charles H Green has teamed up with Andrea Howe to write a follow-up book: The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook. This book takes up where The Trusted Advisor left off and dives into practical details on how to:

  • Develop business with trust
  • Nurture trust-based relationships
  • Build and run a trustworthy organization, and
  • Develop your trust skill set

One of the tools Charles and the team over at Trusted Advisor Associates use in their work is the Trust Quotient Self Assessment. This tool allows you to see which elements of trust you're strong at, and where you have weaknesses.

Rather impulsively, I agreed to be a guinuea pig for the tool – and to video the results live with Charles.

On the video we look at my Trust Profile, and talk about how to go about improving your trustworthiness using the tool as a guide.

You can check it out here, find out what my profile is, and how to improve your trust:

Trust Quotient Interview

And click here for my step-by-step guide to becoming a trusted advisor.



7 Mindset Hacks That Will Help You Get More Clients

Posted on 18th October 2011.

One of the biggest barriers many consultants, coaches and other professionals have that stands between them and achieving their business goals is their own mindset and attitude towards marketing and selling.

I can't tell you the number of people I meet who absolutely know they need to be more effective at marketing and sales – yet who feel incredibly uncomfortable doing it.

And I have to admit, I used to feel that way too.

In fact, I'm still not a “hardcore” sales person ruthlessly focused on getting the sale. My primary concern is getting the best outcome for my clients. And I'm happy that way.

But what I've found is a way of thinking about marketing and sales – mindset “hacks” – that allow me to remain fully congruent with my primary goal of helping clients, while still being effective at marketing and selling.

I'm not saying you have to share all my beliefs and ways of thinking about marketing and sales. But I have found that the more of these you internalise and believe in, the more successful you're likely to be at sales.

Mindset 1: Taking Control
A lot of consultants and coaches have a very passive mindset about marketing and selling. “If I do good work, people will hear about me”, “Word of mouth is the best marketing”, “Something will turn up, it always does”, “Once the recovery kicks in…”.

These may all be true – but if you let them dominate your thinking, it causes you to be passive. To sit back and wait for things to happen. If you want to be successful in marketing and sales you must decide to take things into your own hands: to choose Action over Hope.

Mindset 2: Focus
We’re so overwhelmed with opportunities and information these days it's very easy to lose focus. Every day I read reports of others “crushing it” with webinars, events, product launches, direct mail…

It’s so tempting to become distracted – to try to do everything. To try out every shiny new method you hear about in the hope it will magically bring you in clients without a lot of work.

But the truth is that if we split our focus and keep trying new things, we'll never get good at any of them. We'll never develop the skills or the reputation for any of them to pay off. The path to success is to pick two or three proven approaches and stick with them.

Mindset 3: The SACI Principle
This builds on the principle of focus – and it's something I've written about in detail here.

The SACI principle is that success comes not from silver bullets or one big amazing event – but from Simple Actions Consistently Implemented.

We all know we should keep in touch with our contacts and nurture our relationships. A simple action. But how many of us do it consistently? The same applies across all our marketing and sales. It's consistency that counts.

Mindset 4: Systematize
This was quite a tough principle for me to get to grips with. I love to try new things, to innovate and play around with my marketing. But once you've found something that works, you need to set it on “autopilot”. You need it to be working day in, day out without having to think about it all the time.

That doesn't mean it has to be automated – much of it can't be. But it does mean that – for example – if you've chosen to write articles or blog posts to attract clients, then you need to have a plan for what you're going to write and you need to dedicate a morning a week to doing it. Rather than just aiming to grab some time when you can and make it up as you go along.

Mindset 5: Client Focus
We all talk about being client focused. But in this context, what I mean is that when you have a sales meeting with a client, you're overriding thought should be “how can I help?” – not “how can I sell?”.

What I mean by that is if you go into the meeting (or if you're on a call with a potential client) thinking that your goal is to sell them your services, that a succesful result from that meeting is to emerge with a paying client. Then the chances are you're not going to sell.

You see, more often than not your potential client will pick up on your motivation. If they think that your goal is to sell them, then they won't trust your advice to be independent and in their best interests. They'll second guess what you're saying and resist your recommendations – unsure whether you're making them because you think it's right, or whether you're making them in your own self interest.

However, if you go into the meeting thinking your goal is to help your potential client – and to discover if working together would be the right option – then things change.

When your potential client picks up that your overriding goal is to act in their best interests – and they will pick up on it – then they'll trust your advice and recommendations. If at some point you suggest that working together would benefit them, they're an awful lot likelier to accept that suggestion as being genuine advice rather than a self interested sales pitch than they would be if they felt your goal was to get the sale.

Mindset 6: Belief in Your Value and Expertise
Hand in hand with your focus on helping clients needs to be your belief in the value of what you do and in the strength of your expertise.

The risk with client focus is that you can become subservient – just doing whatever they ask. That's not in their best interests. You need to have a strong belief in your own knowledge and capabilities – and in the value you bring them.

If you don't believe in the tremendous results your potential clients will get if they work with you, then you'll be unable to convincingly communicate that to them. You'll be tentative. You'll feel uncomfortable quoting the high fees you deserve.

In many ways, the first marketing battle is to sell your value to yourself.

Mindset 7: Make “No” An OK Answer
In other words – take the pressure off.

A lot of sales techniques involve putting subtle (or not so subtle) pressure on your potential clients. Deadlines, scarcity, the risk of others getting this deal if they hesitate.

All designed to put a little pressure on your potential client to overcome procrastination and get them to make a decision.

And they work – in their place.

But with complex, costly, intangible services, there's a lot of risk and uncertainty for your potential clients. they need to see a lot of evidence that this will pay off and that you're the right person before they'll be ready to buy.

If you pressure them before they're ready, it'll backfire. They'll feel manipulated and uncomfortable – and they won't buy.

One of the best ways to overcome this – and to build trust – is to make it clear early on that them saying “no” – choosing not to do this – is an absolutely OK option and not one you're going to fight. Going back to our Client Focus mindset – your goal is to figure out whether working together is the right thing for both sides – not to try to force them to say yes.

Take the pressure off by saying up front that it's absolutely fine if you come to the end of the meeting and either of you decides it's not the best option.

Without that pressure, your potential clients will open up much more, you'll be able to build a more trusting relationship, and you're more likely to get the sale.

Next Steps

Review some of your own beliefs about marketing and selling.

  • Are they helpful or counterproductive?
  • Would it be possible to change them?
  • What should you change them to?

Drop me a note in the comments to say what mindsets – either helpful or unhelpful – you have towards marketing and selling.



It Never Happens to Me…

Posted on 21st June 2011.

Why Me?If you're like me and you subscribe to a zillion email newsletters and blogs, you probably hear the following type of stories fairly regularly:

  • “Jane got chatting to the guy sitting next to her in the dentist. The topic got around to business, they exchanged cards, and a few calls later she had a new client.”
  • “I met Bill at a conference. We got talking and I mentioned an article I'd written on cost reduction. Later I sent it to him and followed up with a call. He was interested and after a brief meeting he hired me to help them reduce their indirect spend by 20%.”
  • “John was at a party a few weeks ago. The conversation turned to what everyone in the group did for a living. John shared his “elevator pitch” and two of the people there followed up with him later – one becoming a client within a few weeks.”

Now I don't know about you, but whenever I read these stories, or hear similar ones from people talking about their experiences, my immediate reaction is “how come that never happens to me?”

When I go to the dentist, the topic never gets round to business. When I meet people at parties, the conversation usually turns to football, not marketing.

So how come these folks in the stories seem to have so much success turning social situations into business? Is there a secret they're not sharing that they do and we don't? Some amazing technique we've not heard of?

Well, there is a secret. But it's not a clever technique.

You see, what the stories usually omit is that the people they're talking about initiate conversations EVERY time they're at the dentist (or the doctors, or at the hairdressers, or in a queue for tickets, or…). Only one in twenty turns into a business discussion – and that's the one you hear in the story. Of course, one in twenty is one more than you get if you don't initiate any conversations at all.

When they're at parties, the conversation doesn't always turn to business. It's just that they go to more parties than us, and they're the ones bringing up business.

In short, they turn more social situations into business than you or I because they put themselves in more social situations than you or I, they proactively talk to more people than you or I, and they bring up business more than you or I.

The rather simple logic is that all other things being equal, if you want to win more business, you've got to do more business development.

Or to paraphrase the old joke: it's no good just praying to win the lottery – you have to give your deity of choice a fighting chance by actually buying a ticket.