Andrew Gibson - The problem with selling to anybody
In this episode, Andrew Gibson describes the best way to find paying clients, the business benefits of writing a book and the power of your story.
Tony Radford 0:18
Hello, everybody, today's guest is Andrew Gibson from andrew-gibson.com Andrew, how are you today?
Andrew Gibson 0:27
I'm great. Thanks, Tony. Thank you for having me on your podcast. How are you?
Tony Radford 0:30
I'm very well actually. Thank you very much. And it's a real pleasure to have you. Can you tell us about your business?
Andrew Gibson 0:38
Yeah, sure. So I'm a coach in the main. I also do training and facilitation, and I'm an author. I've written a couple of books. And my main focus is helping people start and grow small businesses. And I also help local and regional charities find sustainable income streams, and also help them with engagement projects as well when they've got in between got money in the bank and they need to go and make a difference with it.
Tony Radford 1:03
More specifically, how do you help small businesses?
Andrew Gibson 1:06
Most common request is just helping them actually find some customers. Yeah. So when a business starts out how quickly they can get to be sustainable, to have income, and be making a profit determines whether we survive or fail. So I'm really passionate about helping people to focus rapidly on the customers that they can really help and help them with methods to go out and find them so that we can get to that sustainable point as fast as possible.
Tony Radford 1:34
Okay, so specifically, how do you actually do that?
Andrew Gibson 1:38
I think it's fair to say most people, when they start, are really happy to just sell a product or sell a service to absolutely anybody. So we go out and we market ourselves as exactly that.
I'm guilty of doing that myself when I first started making half years ago. The thing is, while we can help anyone, it's really difficult for our networks introduce us to anyone and if you think successful businesses, they tend to be known for specific things, and referred to, or referred by the network to people for specific things. So what I'm really trying to do is to help people, especially when they start out to identify who it is, they really want to help, the difference that they make for them. And to work this all out before they spend money on their marketing plans and on the sales activity.
Because the more precise and specific you can be about knowing who you help and how you help them, the easier it is to just go and find some of those people and actually help them and if you're making a difference for them, there's a possibility of a transaction. And lo and behold, you start making money. So it's just about making it easier, faster by being more specific.
Tony Radford 2:47
Okay, that's really great. Thank you. Thank you very much in terms of your business and your and your sort of professional life, what's one of the biggest challenges that you've had to overcome?
Andrew Gibson 2:57
Well, as far as taking my own medicine, I started out isn't anything for anyone my options. So actually realizing that being specific was the way was was the way to actually make a difference for people and find more people to make a difference for.
And having having gone through that, then I find that when I have this conversation with people, both in small businesses and in charities, they're amazed, you know, they've never thought of it this way, the kind of the penny drops. And I was getting lots and lots of people, especially in my early years as a coach, and in lots and lots of people saying things like, well, how, you know, never thought of it that way.
I've just coached a couple of people in Denmark, for example today. And they have said, Wow, in the meeting, because despite the fact they do very similar things to me just in a therapy context, they'd never thought of it this way in terms of how to build a business and how to find clients. So the biggest challenge for me was, okay, there's only so many people I can help in my life with a face to face meeting or a phone call. How do I get this message out there? How do I spread the word that that is an easier, simpler, more effective way of finding customers and making sustainable income. And so that's when I decided to write a book. And having written one I've never written two.
But writing the first one, if I told you that the process from starting writing it to getting it published took me five years you'll get some kind of idea of the size of the challenge of actually just writing it and getting it out there and and it's still on a journey now. It's still a big challenge to actually get the book out there and have people read it.
Tony Radford 4:34
Can you tell us the title of your book?
Andrew Gibson 4:36
Yeah, sure. The first one is called what's your u Rp. And u RP is unique referral point. And the second one just published is called make life simple.
Tony Radford 4:48
Okay. And they're both available on Amazon are they?
Andrew Gibson 4:51
They are they're both available and Amazon was a very proud moment few weeks ago when the second book appeared and then I was with not one but two books next to each other. on Amazon, I'm already thinking about ideas for further books, if I make the time to write them,
Tony Radford 5:06
how does writing a book benefited your business?
Andrew Gibson 5:11
I would say one of the most interesting things was interesting aspects of writing a book is the additional credibility that it gives you, as long as the book is actually well received. So the first one was very well received. And I'm delighted that that's made a difference already amongst those who have read it. I've had lots of people compliment and praise me for it.
And indeed, most importantly, tell me the difference that it's made to them. Interesting. I wrote the book to help people starting businesses or with their own small business. I've had people who are in careers come and tell me that it's, it's helped them to realize that they were in a career that they weren't enjoying, and they've changed career and gone to find something that they enjoy and make a difference that way. So I would, I would say the biggest difference for me has been just in terms of credibility and through do that as well. I'm really keen to develop my own profile as a speaker. This is the next challenge for me if you like, the book is out there.
The the audience for the book, of course, is hopefully growing. But I would really like to be sharing these methods in speaking situations. I've been doing a lot of that one line recently, with, I love standing up in front of a hole full of people delivering these methods, whether it's training courses or workshops. And so that's the next chance for me is getting them doing more of that. And I hope that the book lends credibility that somebody can read the book and think, yep, I want some more of this. And they can get in touch. And maybe we can have a chat about me going and talking to their colleagues.
Tony Radford 6:41
It's interesting you say that you like to get up in, you know, in front of people and talk. I mean, some for some people, that fear is actually greater than the fear of death. Yeah, can you tell us a little bit more about the next steps for your business?
Andrew Gibson 6:55
Well, I do take my own medicine. So I've got a reasonable reputation I open helping small and startup businesses on helping charities, when I see an application for these methods, is in groups of people who are doing broadly similar things, and who see everybody else in the room as competition. I think I can actually help groups of people like that to realize that if they look outwards and look at the customers that they're helping, even though they're doing essentially the same thing, they can all actually help different people.
And then actually, if they work together, they can probably start referring to each other and building everybody's business and everybody wins, and more people get held. So the challenge I'm facing myself as my next steps is to be talking to more industry conferences, and franchise companies. We've got rooms for the people, broadly doing the same thing. I think I can help those people to grow their businesses, in cooperation with the people who are in the room, and that's where I'm at moment but then the unique drift I describe it as a pyramid view. When you're starting out with new customers to help you start as a novice, even though you might be an expert at doing what you do.
You're a novice in the real world. So I'm very definitely a novice in the world of franchise and industry associations at the moment. But that's the next step for me is to be getting out and talking to more people in in those sectors and finding out more about how I can help
Tony Radford 8:24
excellent so if suddenly gave you 500 pounds to spend on marketing, how would you spend it?
Andrew Gibson 8:30
Well, I've been a proud member of BNA for the last 10 years and as a happens 500 pounds would pretty much buy you 12 months membership of PMA. So I would prefer to spend on extending my membership of BNA. I've found the whole process of being in Vienna has been such a great educational process for me. Even you know the journey from being an anything for anyone mountain to being really, really Specific will be a nice being training its members to do that for years and years and years. I'm just too stubborn.
So who decided I had to work a lot from first principles, having worked out, having then added my own coaching practice and so on. Hopefully I'm offering something back to the community of small businesses and the like. Yeah, I would say as a best business is word of mouth referral business, being part of an organization that is expert in helping its members learn about that process would be the best place to spend that money.
Tony Radford 9:32
Right. Okay. Thank you. And that leads on to my next question is, you know, do you have a business mentor or support group? And you know, what would be your experience of that?
Andrew Gibson 9:45
Yeah, sure. Um, well, again, BNA acts as a support group for me. I help a lot of members in DNI and I get a lot of help and return from my colleagues there. I'm also very active in my professional network. So solution focused practice is a it's a It's a practice it's offered all around the world. And I'm very active in a couple of associations and lots of conferences, I regularly go and deliver workshops and speak with account. One mentor, so I would like to give a lot of credit to his Rick Armstrong. He is my publisher. He also has a business mentor. So he does help people in business. And his company Fisher King publishing has been publishing books for a long time now.
And yeah, I've benefited hugely from his advice. And he's always a good person for me to go and talk to whenever I usually when I have a crazy idea, and I think, oh, brilliant, I think I'm going to do this. It's a really good idea to be able to pick the phone up to somebody and bounce your ideas off them, and just maybe get a little bit of common sense from time to time.
Tony Radford 10:42
I was wondering, actually, could you tell us a little bit more about solution focused practice?
Unknown Speaker 10:47
Andrew Gibson 10:48
I've made the central to the second book make life simple. Solution focused practice started out as a therapeutic practice. It was formed in the 70s from review What was then videotape of conversations in a therapy context, and the founders of this, Steve, this user and into convert in Milwaukee, reviewed tons and tons of videotape and just find out what worked in conversation.
And starting from that principle of looking for what worked, they wrote a book, they called it solution focused practice, or sorry, solution focused brief therapy to be fair, and it started to take off and started to gain traction in the therapy world. And this is going back into the 70s. So this is over 40 years ago now in modern times is somewhat unfortunate because solution focused practice as a name is open to a lot of interpretation.
And really, we're solution focused practice should be positioned is people are looking for the difference that I mentioned earlier on. And solution focused practice is all about describing the difference that you will Before you take action to get it, now I have a particular take on this. I think when we look at the word solution, we often think about the action that we're going to take. So we have a problem. We think if we do something about it, then that action will solve the problem. And where solution focused practice differs is it describes the difference you want first.
And only then do you work out what actions you're going to take. And where this is useful is you can get a team of people to broadly coalesce around a set of differences that that one, then you can get a team of people to propose ideas for action, and you've got something that everybody's agreed on, that they can refer to. So you can as a team, take a look and see what actions are going to give you the greatest part of the differences that you'll want. If you don't do that first step, and instead, everybody suggests what we're going to do.
Actually, that's where disagreement An argument can be, can come past, say that that's where you get the the difference that people are looking for. And people can coalesce around that difference. And then they can determine what actions are going to deliver that difference. As opposed to taking the difference. The difference is off the table. And just looking at what we're going to do about something, and then hit How do you decide what you're going to do is that the most senior person is that the loudest voice?
You've always got somebody there who's saying, Oh, well, we did that 10 years ago, and it didn't work, then, you know, you end up in a big debate about taking action about something, rather than coalescing it in a difference. I think that's an essential difference in solution focused practice. And the other essential differences, we're always looking for the next small steps that somebody can take. We're not looking for the grand master plan, you know, the giant leap forward, we're looking for the next small steps that you can take, that will move you a little bit closer to that difference. So everybody can leave a meeting with a clear idea of what needs to be done next. They can take those steps knowing that if they have the right steps to take, they will observe some of the differences that they're looking for, and then another on the right path.
Tony Radford 14:10
Okay, thank you very much. And that's sort of part of your latest book make life simple.
Andrew Gibson 14:17
It very definitely as I'm trying to explain the concept in ways which are practical and relevant, and applicable. So solution focused practice features quite strongly throughout the book. And as does the power of story. This is something which I've been really investigating strongly since the first book was published last year, the power of your story in your network, your narrative and your networks and how your story's changing over time. This is called social capital. sociologists have been studying this for a long time health in the worlds of health and social care. And I think there's a strong strong application to this in business how your business matters. tiv is seen in your business network, I think is a resource that we can all be tapping into in business, as well as in our personal lives. And then of course, combining that with a solution focused approach to getting things done. And then you have the new book in a nutshell.
Tony Radford 15:16
Great. Okay. Well, I wish you success with with your new book. Sounds very interesting. Can you give us one actionable sales tip, please?
Andrew Gibson 15:25
Yeah, I think this is probably the thing I work through most of all, with new businesses and small businesses I work with, when you ask somebody who they'd like to work for, or who they'd like to sell their product to. Often they will tell you, it's anybody. And unfortunately, I really can't introduce you to anybody. And also, when we make introductions, if you think about the introductions that we make, we generally introduce somebody because they're an expert in something. So we very, it's very rare that we'd introduce somebody Say you want to talk to them, they're really keen.
They really just qualified. If you imagine this was your dentist, and I was able to introduce you to my dentist. Oh yeah, they're brand new. They're just out of college. They haven't done any fillings yet, but they're really keen to practice Would you like to go and talk to them? And actually, we'd really rather be referring somebody to the dentist who's done an awful lot of fillings, and knows what they're doing, and is not going to cause us a lot of pain. And they're an expert. So how do we become an expert, and get start getting referrals as an expert, when we just first starting out in business, and this, this, for me is about looking at the customers that you want.
So who is your very best customer, if you've already helped some people brilliant, tell the story of how you help them. If you haven't helped anybody yet who would be your dream customer, and then work out the measurable difference that you would make for them. Because this is the thing that people will actually pay for, and whether it's your product or your service.
Now, when we when I see that again, a lot of people will immediately say oh, I want to talk to Richard Branson. Okay. If you want to talk to Richard Branson, and I'm going to introduce you. First of all, I have to have credibility with Richard Branson. And secondly, you need to have done something for somebody who's of a similar level, to Richard Branson in the business hierarchy. So you might have to work your way up through the gears. So don't feel that it has to be somebody who's already a Titan of industry. If you have helped some people or you want to help some people, then you can go and find those people.
And maybe you can help them. And as you do, so you'll be developing stories about how you've helped people. And ideally, those stories will be about the differences that you've delivered for them. Because remember, that's what people are interested in. So they'll engage with you for the differences. They'll hear stories about how you made a difference. And they'll actually pay you if you can make a difference for them as well. And the more specific you can be in defining the differences you make for specific people, the easier it will be for your network to introduce them and introduce you to them. And the simple reason for that is because you become an expert in their world.
The difference that you're offering. So it actually becomes an offer easier to go and find them. You might find them in in your network already, you can just pick up the phone and see kind of come and have a chat with you about this, I just need to pick your brains and see if this is in fact, relevant to you. You can also find them online.
And you're building your reputation as an expert. Even as you just begin your business journey. You don't have to be all things to all customers. To be an expert, you can be one very specific thing to one very specific group of customers and become an expert. And that will help you then get referrals to other people who want to talk to an expert about their idea, something new that they think you might be able to help with.
Tony Radford 18:42
Now, that's really, really great. Tip there. And, yeah, I want to thank you for being on this podcast show. It's been really great and educational. So thank you very much that Andrew.
Andrew Gibson 18:55
Oh, it's a pleasure. Thank you very much for having me. It's been it's been really great. Thank you.
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