Matthew has helped countless companies go from struggling to thriving. Today he tells us different methods and strategies for growing any business. Of course for our show, we’re focused on real estate investing businesses mostly. If you enjoyed today’s episode remember to subscribe in iTunes and leave us a review!
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Matthew Pollard Real Estate Background:
- Founder and Executive Director of Small Business Festival, ranked the #3 business conference by Inc.
- His methods have transformed more than 3500 struggling businesses into profitable successes
- Author of The Introvert’s Edge
- Known as “The Rapid Growth Guy,” dedicated to helping small business owners
- Featured in Fortune, INC., Entrepreneur, and CEO Magazine, and is a regular TV, radio, and podcast guest
- Based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
- Say hi to him at https://matthewpollard.com/
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Joe Fairless: Best Ever listeners, how are you doing? Welcome to the best real estate investing advice ever show. I’m Joe Fairless, and this is the world’s longest-running daily real estate investing podcast. We only talk about the best advice ever, we don’t get into any of that fluffy stuff.
With us today, Matthew Pollard. How are you doing, Matthew?
Matthew Pollard: I’m doing great, mate. Thank you for having me on. The longest-running podcast, congratulations!
Joe Fairless: Yeah, I appreciate that. Over 1,300 episodes, every single day for the last 1,300+ days. A little bit about Matthew – he is known as someone who can create rapid growth for your business. He has done the same thing for his businesses. He’s responsible for five multi-million-dollar businesses. He’s also the author of The Introvert’s Edge, which can be found on Audible, as well as Amazon… And he’s gonna be talking to us about three ways to rapidly grow our businesses.
As real estate investors, we are certainly entrepreneurs who are looking to grow our businesses. And because we are having our conversation on a Sunday, this is a special segment of the show, Skillset Sunday. The skill that you’re gonna come away with from our conversation is how to rapidly grow our entrepreneurial businesses, which happen to be in real estate. Matthew, what’s the best approach for our conversation?
Matthew Pollard: Yeah, sure. In regards to starting this conversation, I think the best way to look at this is really two-fold. People that are in investment in real estate – there are two ways that we generally monetize that, right? If we’re just getting started, having our own business is the best way to create the revenue that we need or the capital that we need to create a real estate portfolio. Then we need to be able to market our real estate portfolio. So I think we can really take it in two different angles at the same time, which is regardless of which business we’re in, how do we rapidly grow our business? What I always look at is most business owners generally have really strong functional skills, but what they generally lack is having that strong differentiated message that separates them from everyone else, an understanding of who their niche is, who their ideal customer is – that guy/girl that’s going to rally to their cause, and then a sales system that actually works.
Joe Fairless: Yeah, it makes sense… So a unique value proposition, know who your customer is, and then have a sales system that works.
Matthew Pollard: Exactly right.
Joe Fairless: Okay, I like it. So before we dive into each of these three, tell us a little bit more about your track record and what you’ve done, just to set the stage for your accomplishments, so that we can then learn a little bit more about who is talking to us about how to grow our business.
Matthew Pollard: Yeah, sure. I think the best way to do that is not just to talk about what I’ve achieved, but really where I’ve come from. A lot of people that see me speak – I’m speaking at Microsoft Inspire in July, I’m a featured speaker, 18,000 people in the audience that will be seeing me speak from the stage and they’re gonna go “That guy is an extrovert. That guy has just got that natural gift of the gift of the gab” It’s actually not true.
When I was in late high school I had a reading speed of a sixth grader, I was horribly introverted, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and I really took a job at a real estate agency to be in the back-office of that agency for about a year… So not to be the person out selling, but the guy in the back doing the data entry, trying to find myself for a year.
School – I got in the top 20% of my state, but it was really difficult. It took every bit of energy I had to succeed, and I just wanted that year off to really figure out what I was wanting to do. About three weeks into that job, my boss comes up to me and says “I’ve got some really bad news. Our company is being shut down and you’re out of a job.” This was three weeks that I’d been working there, and it was just before Christmas, and unlike the United States who go on Christmas, and they have Thanksgiving, and it’s winter time, it’s our Christmas and our summer break at the same time. People go on holidays from the 20th of December to the 15th or 20th of January.
So the only job I could really get at the time – because no one’s hiring at that time – was commission-only sales. I don’t care — my manager used to say “We throw mud off against the wall and we see what sticks.” That sounds great, until you realize you’re the mud, right?
Joe Fairless: Right.
Matthew Pollard: So my manager put me into training, and five days of product training I got, and not a single second of sales training, and I got thrown on this road which is really over 1,000 retail stores on both sides. I got told to go and sell.
I went to walk into the first door, and I had that realization that no one really taught me how to sell. So I took a deep breath, I walked in, and I was politely told to leave, and very shortly after that, I was less politely told to get a real job, and then I was sworn at.
93 doors of that it took me to get my first sale. I remember I was ecstatic, really. I made my first sale, I made about $70, and I was ecstatic for about 45 seconds really, until I had that realization “I’m gonna do this again tomorrow, the next day, and every day for the rest of the year.” That just really wasn’t okay. I needed to find another way, but I had a reading speed of a sixth grader, so I couldn’t exactly pick up a Brian Tracy or Zig Ziglar book.
So what I did gravitate to was — YouTube was just becoming popular at that time, and it might surprise people to know that there’s more there than just cat videos, right? So I learned the steps of the sale, I learned the system of the sale, and every day I went out and practiced that. And I went from 93 doors, to 72, to 48, to 12, to 3 within the space of about six weeks.
My manager called me in and he actually said “I’m actually blown away by this… I just got our monthly report and you’re the number one salesperson in the company”, which just happened to be the largest sales and marketing company in the Southern hemisphere; thousands of salespeople. It took about six weeks…
Fast-forward a few more years – I was promoted seven times, I went into business for myself about a year later. Three years later we were the number one brokership for business-to-business cell phones in the country. It turned over 4.2 million dollars in year three, and fast-forward a few more years, I’ve been responsible for five multi-million-dollar success stories before my 30th birthday.
Then I went to the United States, wrote the Introvert’s Edge, and I’ve been helping business owners ever since.
Joe Fairless: So the five multi-million-dollar businesses – are those five that you’ve founded, or are those five that you consulted on?
Matthew Pollard: Ones that I’ve founded. The first one was in telecommunications. Most people, I think, when they leave or go into business for themselves, they generally gravitate to the thing they’ve always known, and telecommunications was what I’ve always known, so that’s what I’ve gravitated to.
From there I moved into electricity, and then I actually moved into coaching, and then into education, and then my commercial real estate has always been one of the other ones that I’ve really been able to be involved with.
Joe Fairless: Got it. And each of those five had revenue of over a million dollars?
Matthew Pollard: Correct.
Joe Fairless: With each of those five, do you currently own each of them still?
Matthew Pollard: No. I predominantly only focus now on commercial real estate and also my education business.
Joe Fairless: Okay. With the telecommunication and the electricity businesses – what happened to those two?
Matthew Pollard: With the education business we were following a government funding trend, so when the funding ran out, we slowly wound that down. In telecommunications we did pretty much the same thing.
Joe Fairless: Got it. So you rode the wave until the wave was no more, and then you said “We’ll move on to something else.”
Matthew Pollard: One of the things I specialize in is finding great ways to monetize specific markets for the right period of time.
Joe Fairless: What are some things you look for in order to do that? I know this is a general question, so if you wanna use one of these examples, feel free to do so.
Matthew Pollard: One of the things that I look for is an unmet need, or a currently unserviced niche in the marketplace, in a highly established, almost saturated market. What I mean by that is that when you’re talking about a marketplace like telecommunications, one would assume that the market was pretty saturated; we were a market of 22 million people, and the marketplace was crazily saturated, except it was a whole market of small business owners where the market was just being moved off-shore for customer service, and these people were screaming out for additional support.
It’s great to save money on your telecommunications, but if something goes wrong on your phone and there’s no one there to support you, that’s horrific, right? You’re losing more money than you’ve saved. So what we did is we launched with an independent brokerage where you could really go with any company… But if you were focused on saving money but also wanted the service there, we would service you no matter which company you went with.
Education is another great example. When we were looking at the marketplace, there were really two marketplaces, right? There were groups of clients that were in the market to do post-graduate qualifications, that already had a degree, and those people were looking for more prestigious schools where they could leverage that qualification for a long period of time. Then you have the marketplace of people that were high school leavers, didn’t get the grades that they were looking for, and they needed to go and do a qualification somewhere else to get the grades that they needed to get into the schools that they really wanted to get into.
Both of those markets are highly competitive and really tough, but what we discovered was that there was this whole market of tradespeople, and tradespeople really had an interest in track record… So they left school generally at about the age of 16. Most people in real estate would know this, in commercial investing especially. These people generally leave school at the age of 16, they’re either highly entrepreneurial or they struggle with school, they go into an apprenticeship and they generally learn how to do what they do through sarcasm and aggression from their bosses, and then eventually they end up the best at what they can do.
They then look around and they’re like, “Well, everyone else here is making the same sort of money as I am. Why would I bother with this?” I may as well go into business for myself. So then they do, and they start to get some clients, then they hire staff, and the staff aren’t performing, and they’re not great at managing stuff because they learned through sarcasm and aggression, so they do the same thing for that group of people that they’ve hired. So now they’re not making money, their staff aren’t performing, their systems and processes are horrible, their customers are upset… They need help, but they couldn’t afford business coaching, which is the help they wanted… But they hated school. They have this view of “If you can’t do, you teach.”
So what they did is they were looking for an answer, and we launched business coaching at a price you can afford. What we did is we ran our classes like a mastermind. Business coaches ran the classes, and what we did find is at that time when we were researching the market, we were going through the global financial crisis and the government was incentivizing training. It wasn’t free training, but it was incentivized by the government, so what we did was we launched into that marketplace with business coaching at a price you can afford, and we targeted business owners that worked on a trade site – plumbers, electricians, tailors, that sort of thing. We took on 3,500 clients within the space of three years.
Joe Fairless: That’s a lot of people.
Matthew Pollard: It was a lot of people, it was a very busy time.
Joe Fairless: And it WAS a very busy time – you’ve just said past tense; why isn’t it still a very busy time?
Matthew Pollard: Well, we focused on the trade demographic during that government funding burst.
Joe Fairless: Okay.
Matthew Pollard: One of the things that’s important with business is to always be looking at the marketplace and how it’s transforming, and as the market gets saturated, there are two ways to do it. One is you look for blue oceans in the current marketplace, with the current product and service you have, or you look for blue oceans in the marketplace for other products and services that are emerging. That’s always been what I do.
So for me it’s “How do I apply my sales and marketing skillset to different markets over time?” That is now one of the things that I specialize in. I consult and speak all over the world on how to create a unified message that resonates with your true why. Because one of the things that I’ve learned over time is I can create rapid growth out of anything, but there’s nothing worse than a rapid growth company with customers you can’t stand or a business you don’t like working within.
Joe Fairless: Right.
Matthew Pollard: What I now do is — in the past, I looked at marketing the way a lot of people look at marketing, and it’s finding a need in the marketplace, create a message for that market, then create the sales system… Bang! You’ve got a rapid growth business. The problem with that is then you may be in a niche market you don’t enjoy, so what I structure my branding around and what I do now is it’s really about discovering what you’re passionate about, what your purpose is, and then looking for the unmet need in the marketplace in the global economy, that way you can drive your ideal clients to you, and then you create a sales system around that.
What that means is that you end up owning a business that’s completely aligned with what you’re passionate about and what your purpose in life is, which means that’s the business you wanna be in forever. And as long as there’s unmet needs in the marketplace, which there always is, and this was one of the big shifts for me – in the past, I was an offline salesperson… Direct sales, telemarketing, that sort of thing. When I moved to the United States I went online and I had to become a student of it. I mean, I didn’t even know how to change the word “the” to the word “they” on a website.
Nine months later, I was an international award-winning blogger, and [unintelligible [00:14:06].16] was one of the most retweeted business coaches on Twitter. So I learned the potential of the online marketplace, and what I realized is that so many people in business trade in what they’re passionate about for what’s practical, or a marketplace, this shiny object that they can see. And that’s what I did for a lot of my life. I was always looking for that shiny object that I could make money out of for the short term, and what I realized is you can make a lot more money and be in love with what you do for the long-term if you focus on what you’re passionate about, get your branding right and look at the unmet needs in the global marketplace to monetize it that way.
Joe Fairless: Beautiful. I completely agree. There’s so much opportunity out there, and everyone’s world-class at something, whether they recognize that or not. The key is to identify where those skills can be applied, to then build the business and have long-term sustainable success, right?
Matthew Pollard: Well, this is what I’ve found. My first business – I’ve created that because I wanted to prove everyone else wrong. [unintelligible [00:15:05].04] a horrible acne, and all of a sudden I started to do good, and then I kept getting promoted, but because I was in sales, every time I got promoted I actually took a pay cut until I started to make money off all those people that were underneath me, and then they’d promote me again.
So I went to my manager and said, “Look, I used to make a ridiculous income just selling. Now I’ve got all these responsibilities, and I keep taking a pay cut for [unintelligible [00:15:26].13] You’re gonna have to give me a base.” My manager said “Matt, at your age this salary is huge. This is the best you’re ever going to do.” That upset me, and I went on the march to prove him wrong.
Three years later, the business turned over 4.2 million dollars, but I was miserable. I [unintelligible [00:15:47].08] and I was like “If this is as good as it gets, I don’t want this life”, so I looked for a different way to monetize, and I continued down that journey… And here was my realization – people inherit their goals from their mother, their father, their drunk roommate they had in college. They hear these guys and go “Yes, that’s what I wanna charge towards!” and they either struggle to master that energy to excel at that, or they get there and they’re like “Wow, this wasn’t as good as I thought it was”, and then become disengaged.
What I realized is that’s why people tend to jump from shiny object to shiny object, and I was exactly like that. Then what I realized is that if I can focus on what I’m passionate about, what my why’s were — and to be honest with you, I had to really think about that… Because for the longest time I did trade that in for practicality or the shiny object. And as soon as I realized what I was passionate about doing, which was looking at somebody’s business, coming back to looking at what they were passionate about, creating a message around that, discovering an unmet need in the marketplace where they could create exponential growth and then create the sales system, and then I made the decision to focus purely on that – well, since then, my business has just absolutely exploded. I now get to help everybody do what I absolutely love, where in the past I’d get to about 12 months in and I was bored, because my talents weren’t being utilized anymore.
Joe Fairless: So practically speaking now, kind of bringing this all full circle, the three ways to rapid growth – it sounds like there’s three, but then there’s an underlying foundation that needs to be established, and that’s identifying what you’re passionate about (the Why), and then its unique value prop, knowing the customer, and then the sales process. Is that accurate?
Matthew Pollard: Yeah, definitely. If you wanna frame this right – and I think we’ve got a few minutes left, so I can elucidate with an actual real case study, if that’s helpful for you.
Joe Fairless: Yeah.
Matthew Pollard: I had a client out in California – her name was Wendy, she was a language coach; she taught kids and adults Mandarin. She comes to me and she’s like “Matt, I’m really struggling. I used to make $50-$80/hour to teach Mandarin. Now there’s all these people moving into the city and they’re willing to charge $30-$40/hour to get their first client, doing exactly what I do.” Not only that, she had to deal with people advertising from China on Craigslist at $12/hour, and then she had to deal with – thanks to our friends in Silicon Valley – people saying “Oh, I’ll teach you Chinese, you teach me English” and there’s now platforms where they just exchange time.
So she was losing her current clients, she was struggling to get new clients, and she said “Matt, can you teach me how to sell better, to be able to get rapid growth?” I said, “Wendy, what I want you to do is I want you to avoid the battle altogether.”
What we did is we looked at all the clients she worked with, and there were two people specifically – these were executives being relocated across to China, and she helped them understand these three things. The first one was this concept called Galaxy; now, I know that to us it means out of space, but over there, it’s their version of rapport. If I was gonna sit down and try and sell you something, I would sit down and have one meeting with you in the Western world, maybe 30-45 minutes later if I was a bad salesperson I’d say “Do you wanna move forward?” and you would say “Yes”, “No” or everyone’s favorite, “Let me think about it.” If I called you back next week and you said “Yes, I totally wanna go forward”, great. If you still said you wanted to think about it, I know my chances of getting that sale are going down and down. Well, in China they’re gonna wanna meet with you five or six times, they’re probably gonna wanna see you drunk over karaoke once or twice. That’s just the kind of character they are, because they’re not talking transactional 12 or 24-month deals, they’re talking about 50-100 year contracts. It’s longer than a lot of people’s lifetimes, so as a result they wanna know the kind of person they’re getting into bed with.
The second thing she helped them understand is the difference between e-commerce in China and e-commerce in the Western world. And the third thing she helped them understand was the importance of respect. It’s like, when somebody hands you a business card here, we just grab it, throw it in our pocket and continue the conversation.
I just spoke at Electrolux – 150 vice-presidents, all commanding over 1,000-2,000 staff, and when they get my card, they hold it, they cherish it, they look at all the detail on the front, they look at all the detail on the back, pull out a card case, slot it in, then bow and continue the conversation. Anything less than that is considered disrespectful and you’re not going to be doing business with them.
I said, “Wendy, you’re doing so much more for these people than just private language tuition. What are you doing?” She’s like “I’m just trying to help”, and I said “Wendy, you’re stuck in your functional skill. Is it fair to assume as a result of this assistance these people are going to be more successful in China?” She’s like, “Yeah, that’s the point”, and I said “Great, so why don’t we call you The China Success Coach?” Instead of focusing on teaching Mandarin, because there’s a price tag battle to the bottom, why don’t we create The China Success Intensive, which became a five-week program that worked with the executive, the spouse, and any children to be relocated across to China.
She said, “Well, that sounds great, but who would I sell it to?” I said, “Well, who do you think your ideal customer would be?” She said, “Well, obviously, the executives.” I said, “Well, yeah, the executives are terrified.” I mean, I moved from Australia to America and I was terrified, and people here speak the same language… But no, not your ideal customer.
She said, “Well, then obviously the organization would pay.” I said, “Yeah, well they’ve got tens, hundreds, if not millions of dollars riding on the fact that these executives are successful, but still not your ideal customer.” She said, “Well, who then?” I said, “Your ideal client to me would be the immigration attorney.” Think about it – if anybody that needs to go to China needs a visa… These people that do these visas charge between 5k-7k, but after all the paperwork, all the bureaucracy, cost of acquisition, they’d be lucky to make about $3,000. So offer them $3,000 for any successful introduction.
She reached out to them and they were ecstatic with this. That was almost double their profit. They were like, “Well, what do I have to say?” She said “Simple. All you’ve gotta say is ‘Congratulations, you’ve now got your visa.’ Now, I just wanna double-check you’re as ready as possible to be relocated across to China.” And they’d say “We’ve got our visa organized, we’ve got our place sorted, we’ve learned the language, the kids are getting pretty good at it, too… I think we’re set”, and they’d just respond with “There’s a lot more to it than that. I think you need to speak to the China Success coach.”
Wendy would then get on the phone with this easy sale, because they were terrified, the company was financially motivated to make sure they were successful, and Wendy got to charge $30,000 for this private intensive program, instead of struggling every day to make $50-$80/hour. That’s the power of a rapid growth system.
See, if Wendy [unintelligible [00:22:03].07] she would have already lost, but looking at the skillset she had above and beyond her functional skill, these were the things that she was passionate about. By doing that and saying “Well, I hope [unintelligible [00:22:12].19] respect” and then asking themselves “What’s the high-level benefit of that?”, which was China success, that’s what created rapid growth.
For me, I’m a branding expert, I’m a social media strategist, I’m a sales systematization specialist, I’m a master in NLP, I’m a business coach — I’m too many things; nobody cares. But when I say “I’m the rapid growth guy. I help organizations large and small obtain rapid growth”, the simplicity of that message gets me heard in a crowded marketplace.
Joe Fairless: Great stuff, I love that example. It reminds me of the question “What business are you really in?” versus what you think you’re in. As that example illustrated, she was not in the business of teaching a language, but rather she was in the business of setting them up for success for their journey, and then the key there also was the immigration attorney, where you’ve got alignment of interests with the sales funnel, where you’ve got people sending you leads, who want to send you leads, and are a gatekeeper, or someone that has a high degree of influence on a lot of people who are in her target audience.
Matthew Pollard: You’re exactly right. What we’ve really looked at is “China Success” was the message, the niche was executives being relocated to China, and the sales system was using a joint venture with immigration attorneys. That’s what a lot of people don’t look at, and they always think “I’ve got this functional skill. Now I need to bend myself to the market.” Especially in service provider businesses, that makes you feel incongruent, inauthentic, and it’s why a lot of people suck at sales.
If you can tap into – and this is what I’ve learned – what you’re truly passionate about, you can have this avalanche of energy always, to share with your ideal clients, and that’s what gets you more market share than ever.
Just to track back to what you were talking about, about this one step that’s earlier than that… One of the things I did – and I did this at the National Freelance Conference recently – is I went through this five-step process to crafting a unified message and discovering your niche of willing-to-buy clients… And it really was — it’s a five-step process, and it’s not something that I sell, it’s something that I give away; people can get that at MatthewPollard.com/growth. For 45 minutes, we went through this worksheet, and at the end I said “Now, put your hands up if you now have a strong, unified message that separates you from everybody else, and you feel more comfortable sharing it with your client base, and a right understanding of who your ideal customer demographic is.” About 95% of the room put their hands up.
Now, what’s sad about this though is about 82%-83% of the room kept their hands up when I said “Now, keep your hands up if this is the most time you’ve ever spent on marketing”, which is terrible… I mean, that’s 45 minutes, right? Now, what I discovered though is the group of people that struggled with the people who couldn’t make the decision on step three – which specific demographic to choose – and what had happened is they’d been trading in what they were passionate about for what was practical so long they weren’t even connected to what they were passionate about anymore.
For the people that were in that part of the process, I’ve actually created a podcast called Better Business Coach Podcast, and one of the segments is — it’s episode 17, it’s called “Forget about goals. Why is the key to success.” It will help you reacquaint yourself with what your passion, what your why’s and what your drivers are. Then if you go to MatthewPollard.com/growth and do that worksheet, then you’ll be able to really congruently discover your niche of willing-to-buy clients and the message that’s going to resonate and excite them to wanna know more about you.
Joe Fairless: Matthew, thanks so much for being on the show. Thanks for talking about the three ways to rapid growth, the underlying foundations that’s required in order to be sustainable over a period of time, as well as case studied to go along with that example. I hope you have a best ever day, and we’ll talk to you soon.
Matthew Pollard: Cheers, mate.