Business is how you make money, but what you do with it defines your brand!
Many of us would hate to come across as too salesy. In fact, we often overcorrect to the point where it’s difficult for people to buy from us. But here’s the thing — if you have a good product, you’re doing your audience a disservice by not providing simple opportunities to access it.
You’re also not doing yourself any favors, because making money allows you to stay in business, serve more people, and do more good!
So, how do you create a clear and easy pathway from your free content to your paid products?
Jeff Gargas of TeachBetter.com is our guest host today. In this Teaching Friday session, he’ll run you through a powerful exercise to show you how to convert more than ever without relying on sleazy marketing tactics.
We heard from Jeff in episode 1231 of AskPat, and I’m glad to have him take over the show today to share his insights with us!
This is a great way to overcome your fear of selling and help more people. Tune in for more!
SPI 752: How to Convert Followers into Customers with Jeff Gargas
Jeff Gargas: You need to first fight that little voice in your head telling you not to be too salesy, or that you’re not good enough or big enough, or your pricing’s too high, or whatever it is. Get that thing out of here.
Now, be careful. Don’t overcorrect to become something you are not. However, I want you to remember that in order to serve the people that you want to serve, you need to first stay in business. Your business is how you make money, and your brand is what you do with it.
So making money allows you to serve more people and do more good, whatever that’s good looks like for you.
Pat Flynn: Hey, hey, it’s Pat here. You’re about to listen to something a little different on the show today. It’s not our usual Friday format where I follow up on Wednesday’s episode. Don’t worry, those aren’t going away forever. Just a little break to bring in something even more special, in my opinion. And this episode and the next few are a part of our Teaching Friday series, which we do with our SPI Pro members.
We have an incredibly talented pool of people within SPI. Why not give our pros, the spotlight and teach you here on the podcast every once in a while. it’s just one of the perks of being a part of Pro in fact. With each episode, you get to hear a different pro, teach you something special from their area of expertise.
Without further ado, I’ll let them take it away. Oh, and if you want to find out more about SPI Pro and be a part of it, you can go ahead and apply at SPIPro.com.
Announcer: You’re listening to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, a proud member of the Entrepreneur Podcast Network, a show that’s all about working hard now, so you can sit back and reap the benefits later. And now your guest host, he’s a four time college dropout who’s built a seven figure business in the field of education, Jeff Gargas.
Jeff Gargas: Hey. What’s up team SPI? My name is Jeff Gargas, and I’m excited to be here to share a lesson that my team and I have learned recently, and I think and I hope will bring value to you as well. About nine years ago, I cofounded a company called Teach Better. I currently operate as our COO, and I get to work with an amazing team of educators every day. We work with teachers and school districts to help assess and adjust and support their never ending work, extremely important work of continuously changing and improving their instructional practices to better serve their students.
You can find more about team and all everything that we do over at TeachBetter.Com. I also get to help lead an amazing and just simply awesome community of educreators, which are People create an educational type businesses and side hustles and content and put it out in the world. And I do that over on our Educreator Club Plus community. Go to TeachBetter.com/educreator for that. We’ll get you there.
If you wanna connect with me, I love connecting with other entrepreneurs. If I can help you with something, Awesome. Even if I can help you with some of the steps and ideas that I’m gonna share with you today, I wanna help you. But even if it’s just to get to know you and learn about your business, I’m in. You can reach me at [email protected], or I’m at @JeffGargas on most social media, except on Instagram, it’s @_JeffGargas over there. Alright. So let’s talk about helping and selling or selling and helping or helping via selling or selling via helping. What the heck is Jeff talking about at this point? So let’s go on a journey really quick to how we kinda built our business.
We built our business, like I said, about nine years ago. And at the time, Chad came to me with an idea of a new framework that he was utilizing in his classroom that we now call the grid method. It’s a a framework for utilizing master learning. And he came to me and said he thought he wanted to share it out because of the results he was seeing. I agreed.
He was seeing incredible results with the students. I said, we need to share this with people, and we had this idea of starting to share it out and eventually maybe selling services to districts, the school districts to provide them with professional development or PD. If you hear me say PD throughout this whole thing, I’m referring to professional development, doing workshops and coaching and consulting, stuff like that with districts and teachers. And when I pitched the chat, I was doing content marketing. I said, hey.
I wanna create a whole bunch of content. Wanna give it out for free. And if we do that well enough for enough people, they will be able to to do things and improve their instructional practices and impact kids without us, but they’ll wanna work with us. And this is like a typical content marketing strategy, like, give give stuff away for free in order for people to know, like, and trust you. Right?
This isn’t anything new or or crazy. Like, that’s what that is. We did a little bit differently. We targeted the teachers with our content. So we created content, and we created community, and we created or for teachers where our actual buyers, people that are actually gonna pay us, were the districts.
And we do this kind of a weird a weird way. The idea was that Teachers would fall in love with their brand, tell their administrators about it, and then we would get the call. And that did happen. So that was the idea. Right?
And and sort of the reason I would lean into this and And sorta I’ll get to the problem that we got to in the solution that I think is gonna help you. Is the mistake that I saw in a previous life of helping small businesses with content marketing is the the mistake I saw is that I think a lot of people hear about this. It sounds good. They look at it. They use it as a strategy or a tactic for selling instead of making it what they actually are and how they actually operate.
This model of helping versus selling became how we operate. It’s how we did everything. It’s still how we do things. We help first, we help second, and we help last. We started creating a lot of things, and we gave it all away for free.
Blogs, like, I’m talking hundreds of blogs, podcasts, downloads, courses, our time, countless hours of live streams and in person supports, more of our time, taking every meeting that anybody want, going out to districts, and actually presenting things for free, like, sharing as much as we possibly could. Now we still sold things because this approach does work. We’ve built a brand that people know, like, and trust. Teachers find our brand. They get a ton of value and support from the brand and from the community that we’ve built, and then they tell their administrators about it.
They call us, and we sell them PDM consultant services. It’s actually a really great sales cycle because this the business comes to you. It’s a slow cycle, though, but it works. It’s how we built a profitable seven figure business without running ads or massive cold sales campaigns. And so it works.
But, internally, we were just really focused on the not selling. We, and I would really say me more than anyone, just push so hard on helping verse selling, that selling essentially became like a curse word on our team. That made it so that even with a team of almost twenty people who were highly educated, very talented, and extremely passionate about the work we did, only two of us ever really had any sales conversations with people with leads. There were only two of us that were really focused in any way on generating, like, actual leads and then converting those leads to actual revenue. I was one of those two.
And if I’m being really honest with myself, I wasn’t nearly as focused on that as our CEO, Chad, was nor as much as I should have been. And this also sort of bled into our more passive sales, like our online courses, and now we have swag and stuff like that that we just weren’t selling as much. I mean, even though we were growing every year and we’re profitable and it’s great, We started to really realize that not enough was generated from all the work and all the effort and all the creativity that we were putting out should have been yielded. So about two years ago, give or take, we discovered that we we had just built such a help versus sell mentality in our team that even though our team truly believed in what we did, none of them actually knew how to sell anything even if someone asked. And that’s a big problem to have.
Like, what is going on here? We do good work. We help schools and teachers literally change students’ lives, and we have the data to prove it. So why is no one on our team we’re all connected educators. Lot of the majority of our team are classroom teachers that work with us or admins.
They work with us part time stuff. Why are why are these people who care about this and believe in not selling stuff. It’s because we actually made selling, like, evil. We made it the enemy, so we knew we had to make a change. Now We didn’t wanna make everyone a salesperson.
We didn’t even really want to push anyone to sell anything. We just wanted to make sure that if you are in a conversation with someone who could truly benefit from what we do, you know how to get them to the next step of potentially becoming a client. So here’s what we did and how we approach this problem and how we solved it. First things first, we changed our language internally.
We no longer say help or sell or help don’t sell. We say a few other things. We say help first, help always, but sell when ready. We say sell via helping, and we say help via selling. Most of our sales come from help at first, but sometimes we need to sell them first so that we have the opportunity to help them, and that’s okay.
Secondly, we adjusted our strategic planning, our creative processes, in our marketing to align everything that we do to pathways for people to get to the product or the service that they need when they need it. Thirdly, we addressed the problem with our team. We took accountability for for building a incorrect culture on the team. Now that’s I say that in this specific sense. I think our overall culture is actually really great.
But in this specific sales sense, we have built, like, a weird culture, and we we need to take accountability of that as leaders on the team. And then we provided some very, very relaxed, no pressure training and resources for them to utilize when needed. Now we didn’t pressure them to start making calls. We’ll go out and, like, find all the leads. We didn’t tell them to change anything at all.
We actually really enforced the fact that we didn’t want them to change anything. We just wanted to make sure that they knew how to serve someone who was ready to buy or move closer to buying. And this has been a huge change for us. And we’re now getting, like, good quality leads coming from more team members than ever, not just two of us. And it’s increasing our sales.
It’s increasing the excitement amongst the team, and it’s actually taken a little bit of a a load and pressure off Chad who is really a primary sales. It’s been great. We’re also seeing more leads coming from our website, from our free content, and from all the different support structures we have in place throughout our community. Most importantly, we’ve done this all without sacrificing our core belief of helping first and helping always. So you can help first always and last and still sell something somewhere in there.
Okay. So how do we do this? Well, here’s how I believe that you can take what we’ve done and implement some the same changes into your mindset and your strategies regardless of what you sell, who you serve, or the size of your business. I don’t care if you’re a solopreneur or got a couple of freelance people, got a team of fifty, you can put this place, and it’s not as crazy as it sounds. So I’m gonna try and walk you through this.
So first off, You need to first fight that little voice in your head that you probably hear telling you not to be quote, unquote, too salesy or that you’re not good enough or big enough or your pricing’s too high or whatever it is. Get that thing out of here because that’s potentially the reason why you don’t have the alignment and the pathways that you need is you’re worried about selling. So get that done. That’s gonna go away. Now be careful.
Don’t over correct to become something you are not. That’s not what I want you to do. However, I want you to remember that in order to serve the people that you want to serve, You need to first stay in business. That’s a kind of a key component. I was once told by I I call my mentor that your business is how you make money, and your brand is what you do with it.
So making money allows you to serve more people and do more good, whatever that’s good looks like for you. So that’s number one. Get that mindset. Don’t don’t overcorrect. I want you to be go into being sales about everything.
I want you to focus on the fact that you need to sell in order to continue to serve, okay? Number two is that if you believe you have a product or service that is actually going to bring value to people, then you actually owe it to them to sell them. I’ll say that again. If you believe that you have a product or service that is actually going to bring value to people, then you actually owe it to them to sell them.
If you create something that actually helps people, then I believe that you are actually being selfish if you’re not selling them. You’re doing a disservice to them. Now, however, again, that does not mean that I want you to become a sleazy salesperson. What I want you to do is make sure that you are positioned to sell when people are ready to buy from you. I want you to make sure that you and your potential customers can very clearly see their pathway to purchase them so that when they already take that step, they can take the step to purchase.
You do not do this by suddenly starting to tell everyone to go buy your new course or join your community. You don’t do this by changing the format of your podcast to always start with a commercial about your products. You don’t do it by adding buy now buttons all over your websites. Now you might need to add one somewhere on your website or maybe a CTA to a certain page in order to create a pathway for them, but you don’t need to nor should you flip everything to buy now, buy now, buy now. You actually don’t need to do a whole lot in order to do this.
Keep serving your audience and providing value. But I want you to take the time to work through this exercise to align everything that you give away for free or do for free with something that either converts into a sale to being a stronger advocate for your brand or at least moves them in the right direction. Your audience should always be moving toward the sale. Everything does not need to always be directly tied to and directly led to a sale, but everything should be guiding them toward the opportunity to buy at some point. Some people will take a long time to get there, and that’s okay.
Some people will never get there and never purchase, and that’s okay too. What I want you to do is to make sure that if and when they get there, they can get there easily. So here’s what I want you to do. I want you to take a look at everything that you do that you put out, your blogs, your podcasts, your YouTube videos, your TikToks, your free courses, your email list, all the things you do, all the free stuff that you put out into the world. And I want you to list them all down in a in a single column, This could be on a piece of paper, on the left side of a piece of paper, or on a Google Doc, or, like, on a online whiteboard like a a Miro or something like that.
That actually might be the best way to go because this can get messy, and it’s okay. It’s gonna be messy. But I want you to list them in a left side column. You’re kinda gonna have three columns here, but they’re not sorta even. You got a left and a far right, and then the middle one’s, like, longer.
Right? It’ll make sense in a minute here, but it’s gonna be messy, and that’s okay. So if you can do it digitally, it makes it easier to, like, clean it up. Right? So on the left side, you list out everything that you do, everything you give away for then on the right, so leaving space in the middle, on the right, you’re gonna list everything that you sell, all the different ways that someone could purchase from you.
Now few things with that, if you have a very large variety of things, you can group them together. So, like, let’s say, if you sell merchandise, like, you have, like, an online clothing store, something like that, or makeup or whatever. Like, On my clothing store, maybe you what you put on the right is a specific category like hats or maybe a category like a specific theme or phrase or design, or maybe it’s just one thing. It’s just merch this is what it is.
Like, your right column could be one thing or it could be twenty things. Just like on the left column, you could have things like free download, but you also might have, like, ten different types of downloads or ten different, like, downloads that speak to different topics or ideas or solutions or whatever. And you also might have an email newsletter versus email list or things of that nature. Right? So, like, either one of these sides could be as big or small as it need to be based on what you do.
I believe that the more specific, the better for this exercise, but you can also do it a little more general, and it still kinda brings the the point across, and you can kinda actually go more in-depth in a later, like, version of this because I’m gonna have you do this a few times. So left side, all the things that you’re doing for free, essentially, like, all the content you you create and everything you’re putting On the right side is all the ways and all the opportunities, all the things that someone could purchase from you. Now in the middle, what you’re gonna do is create the pathway someone would take from each of the things on the left column to something on the right column. Right? So how would I potentially go from listening to your podcast to purchasing your your fifteen hundred dollar online course.
How would I move from watching a YouTube video to joining your paid mastermind? Now I’m gonna find a few things here. You’re gonna likely find that several things on the left go to several things on the right or Bunch of stuff on the left go to one single thing on the right and vice versa. Like, you’re gonna see a lot of crossover. But it’s okay.
Like I said, it’s gonna be a little bit messy. What you likely also gonna find is that a few things have very clear and simple pathways. Right? Join the email list, get an email with a discount code, purchase hat. That’s a pretty simple pathway.
Others might have a little bit longer, more complex. So, like, download the PDF ebook, go through a five week email sequence, enroll in a free course, go through a two week email sequence, purchase pay course. And, actually, I could put another one on left where, actually, I’m starting with reading a blog or listen to podcasts. Right? So They can get very long or it can be very short, and it doesn’t matter what you see in here.
Just I just want you to start drawing those things in. And I knew this in sort of boxes. Right? So, like, I have something on the left that’s like PDF download of this cheat sheet. Then my pathway is gonna be, like, aligned to a box that says this.
Right? It’s the email sequence and aligned to this, which is whatever. Eventually to that eventually, the ending with a line to the the pay part. So I hope I hope I’m not making this too crazy. It’s gonna be a little messy.
I do believe that this this helps to kinda visualize it. Right? So you’re also possibly going to find some crossover as well. Like I mentioned, like, are you gonna start to see where some of the things on your left column are also part of the middle pathway for others. Like, the example that I gave, right, on the PDF download, like, your email list is likely on your left column.
It’s your email newsletter. Right? But that’s also that’s because that’s something that you provide for free. That’s value that you provide, but it’s also likely a big part of the way of the pathway to most of the other things. So It’s different pieces of it.
Right? So you’re gonna see some connections. You also might see where maybe I start here. It’s on the blogs, and, actually, my step is actually that PDF download, which you also have left it on the left. Also part of the pathway from reading a blog to get into a purchase point.
So you’re gonna see crossover. You’re gonna see a little bit of repetitive possibly in the middle. You’re gonna see a lot of lines crossing over each other. It’s okay. It’s going to be messy, and that’s okay.
We’re gonna I’m gonna have you do this multiple times and multiple versions to clean it up, which is why doing it digitally really does help because you can kinda, like, move things around, copy paste, and it makes it easier to to do it. And if you could do it on, like, a whiteboard like a Mural or whatever, definitely easier that way. But even if you did it on, like, an iPad where you can erase and move things like a notability, it’ll work. So If it’s messy, don’t stress. We’re good.
Okay. So you got path on your left, or I’m sorry. You got your column on your left with all the things that you do. You got your column on the right with all the things that that someone could buy, all the purchase points. And then in the middle, you got this mess of pathways getting from left to right.
Now you might also notice that some of the things on the left have no clear pathway to anything on the right, and this is okay too. You can either stop doing that thing or create something to lead it to, right, so create something on the right for it to lead to, or tweak it so it fits in a pathway somewhere to help lead something else from left to right. Now you’re very likely going to discover that you have some very strong, very clear, easy pathways. We might find out that you have no pathways at all, and no wonder you’re not selling anything. Right?
No matter what you discover, that’s okay. What I want you to get from this is to start seeing those pathways so you can start seeing how all these things that you’re doing, all these things that you’ve learned about in the courses and the communities and newsletters and tweets and whatever else, all these things that you know you’re supposed to do for your business, I want you to start seeing how they all come together. I’ve been really fortunate enough to actually currently be the TA, the teacher’s assistant in the current email marketing magic accelerator, which is in the SPI All Access Pass community. Shout out to Ashley and our awesome cohort over there. And one of the early conversations we had was around funnels.
Right? If you’re getting into this business, an online business, you’re probably if you’re newer to it, you’re probably seeing and hearing funnels, like, everywhere. Right? The content funnel, the marketing funnel, the sales funnel, the client funnel, the funnel funnel, the funnel funnel funnel. I don’t know.
Funnel’s everywhere. And this was, like, confusing a lot of people because it’s just It’s daunting. It’s overwhelming. Well, the the funnel is just a term for this pathway that we’re looking at. It’s just the term for a pathway that someone takes from initially discovering you.
Right? Listen do a podcast to eventually having the opportunity to buy from you. That’s all it is. So those pathways that you’re uncovering if you’re doing this exercise that you’re or that you’re realizing that you need to create or Clarify, those are those are your funnels. So you can check that off.
You’re good. You’re doing right, and you’re creating, tweaking, and discovering your funnels. Done. So check that thing off. What I wanna challenge you to do is to take the time to lay this out.
Like I said, it’s going to be messy, and that’s okay. You may have to relisten to this podcast a few different times which I apologize if you have to listen to my voice more than this one time, which you might need to so you can do this again and again. It’s likely very messy the first time. I want you to recreate it a second time and a third time, maybe even a fourth or a fifth until it begins to clean up and become clearer. Again, easier to do if you’re doing something digitally.
Here’s what I hope you get to with this process. Here’s the thing that we discovered and what I really want you to take away from this. You do not need to change the way that you serve people. You know, need to change the content you make necessarily. You can continue to help first, help last, and help always, but you need to make sure that you are able to sell when someone wants to buy from you.
You create good things that provide value to people. Don’t deprive them of the opportunity to buy from you, and don’t deprive yourself of being compensated for the hard work and creative energy that you put into things. Sometimes you make the sale because you’ve helped someone so much that they don’t wanna buy from anyone else but you. Other times, you need to sell them in order to help them. But you don’t need to become all about sales to do this.
Just make sure that all those people who fall in love with you and your brand and your content, know how to show you that love and buy from you. If I can help in any way, all you have to do is reach out and ask. I appreciate you.
Pat Flynn: Thank you so much for listening to the Smart Passive Income podcast at SmartPassiveIncome.com. I’m your host, Pat Flynn. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. Our senior producer is David Grabowski, and our executive producer is Matt Gartland. The Smart Passive Income Podcast is a production of SPI Media, and a proud member of the Entrepreneur Podcast Network. Catch you next week!