In this Advisor Mastermind with Sam Mendelsohn, COO of The Value Builder System™ along with Matt Gilbert and Scott Bastian of Gilbert & Pardue, they share how they went from a forecasted $0 in revenue in 2020 to beating their 2019 numbers (their best year ever) in 120 days, despite the COVID 19 pandemic impact.
Sam Mendelsohn: [00:00:01] My name is Sam Mendelsohn, and I'm super happy and excited to be joining our webinar today on the advisory mastermind. I'm just going to wait a couple of minutes as more people come into the session. I can see here that Phil's joined. Doug, it's great to see you. I can see even some other people here, such as Dennis Lee. Very happy to see Vernon as well as Alex over there. John's so happy to see you come into another one of our webinars, really great to see people coming in here. And so just as we're we're getting started. I'm actually very, very excited for the topic that we have today. And so I'm just going to wait just another minute or so as we welcome George coming in again, as well as Dan and Brooks. And same with Harry and hi, John, good to see you, same with Guiles and Lee. All right, excellent. Linda, it's great to see you as well. I'm really happy to see you joining us.
Sam Mendelsohn: [00:01:31] And so I think, you know, just to get started here today, what we're going to be covering is just as part of our webinar series, we've got four webinars that run each and every single month just to remind everybody, the first one that usually happens the first week of the month is built to sell intel. That happened last week where John Warlow goes through and reviews all of last month's built to sell episodes, along with his big thoughts for each and every single one of them today. This is all about you, the advisor. We talk about how to get your business model right and how to monetize on the value builder system.
Sam Mendelsohn: [00:02:11] And we've got an advisor guess for every single session that we do next week is going to be inside the value builder system. So we do a deep dive into the value builder training and the marketing assets that we have. And last but not least at the end of the month is our built our value builder tool kit tool spotlight. And this is actually one of the absolute best well regarded webinars that we have much better than this one. Actually, if you're going to turn one, go to that one. It's fantastic. Laura Fergusson, our director of sales, she does a phenomenal job of going through and explaining exactly how to use the tools and how to really maximize your use of the value builder system. So just to remind everybody, you know, from our advisor community, really inside of the value builder portal is where you're going to see the latest content, including any slides that we have or anything from any of the previous webinars as well as this one. If we have any slides to put up, you can go to all events and you will see all of the previous webinars that we've done, including the built to sell Intel, Laura's fantastic webinar from two weeks ago on Precourt or on lead magnet's and how to use them in order to generate more leads for your business, as well as any other tools that we have in there. So really, the the advisor mastermind, what we do on this particular one, on this particular webinar is very simple. I'm going to introduce you to our guests today. We've got two guests this time two guests, and they're going to tell their story. We're going to go through their business model.
Sam Mendelsohn: [00:04:01] And I think that the story today is tremendously relevant as we are in obviously the midst of this pandemic. We're in some areas it's gone away and in some areas it hasn't gone away. In terms of what the impacts are, we're seeing some advisors who are doing tremendously well and others who are trying to figure out what their next steps are. So what I wanted to do for today was really get Matt Gilbert and Scott Bastian to come on and talk to us about what they did. And I think that this is critical because when you hear the story, it's just insane to watch, you know, the whole world kind of collapsing and then to see something that is a path forward and just go through in order to really take advantage of it. So we're going to go right through to understand exactly what Matt and Scott did. Any questions that you have? Just remember that you can ask them in the panel will be taking every single question, or at least most of them and trying to answer as many as we can for the last 15 minutes or so after we we have a conversation with Matt and Scott. And then I'll just end off very, very quickly with you, just talking about our our smart start program, our deadlines that we have for August 31st first. So without further ado, I'm going to start off by introducing Matt, who's the founding partner at Gilbert and Purdue Business Advisors. And I think that's been with us for for quite a while on the value builder system. Matt, thanks for coming on. Really happy that you're here with us today.
Matt Gilbert: [00:05:49] And I appreciate you inviting us here and happy to speak to the community.
Sam Mendelsohn: [00:05:54] Thank you. Yeah. Hey, so so just just to kind of get us started, can you tell us a little bit about Gilberton, Purdue, what you guys do know what how long have you guys been around all that kind of good stuff?
Matt Gilbert: [00:06:09] Yeah, we so my partner, Brett and I were business owners for about 30 years between us, we owned five different companies. We acquired more than a dozen in that period. So so we've been in the owner's chair. We've been in the buyer's chair. We've been in the seller's chair. We sold all those businesses and in twenty fifteen still young guys and had a lot of fuel in the tank. And and so we started looking around and and we realized that in our space and our geography, there was a void in the market for a broker or an M&A advisor who kind of align their interests with ours is the business owner and fit what we were looking for each time we would go to market to buy and sell. And so as entrepreneurs do, you know, we put our heads together and we went around town, we talked to some folks and kind of made sure that our thesis was sound.
Matt Gilbert: [00:07:12] And we started this company actually in the early part of twenty sixteen. So we've been around for about four and a half years and we're primarily a sell side advisor. We we represent the owners of privately held businesses with about five to seventy five million in revenue and they want to go sell the business to a third party buyer.
Sam Mendelsohn: [00:07:35] So. So how is, how is your twenty. Nineteen.
Matt Gilbert: [00:07:39] Well, you know, every year, 16, 17, 18, 19, every year was better than the year before and 16 was pretty good. So 19 was phenomenal. We we had roughly 60 million dollars in transaction value under our belt in twenty nineteen. We closed a very high profile deal on Christmas Eve here in the Houston area, which really kind of thrust into the spotlight at the right time. And 20, 19 was great. It set us up for what we thought was going to be an amazing 20 20. I know that's where you're going. And it was by the end of April.
Matt Gilbert: [00:08:25] So in March and April of this year, we were supposed to close four deals in those two months.
Matt Gilbert: [00:08:30] And as you know, the world changed early March for us.
Sam Mendelsohn: [00:08:36] So, so, so, so what happened? So, you know, so you wake up, obviously, the world changes. And so what did you have kind of going into April?
Matt Gilbert: [00:08:46] Yeah, going into, you know, in March, we had two closings in the final week and then 30 days later in the final week of April, we had two closings.
Matt Gilbert: [00:08:55] So we were in the final throes of diligence on those deals. And in the Houston area where I'm located, March six was kind of D-Day for us. That's when this area really kind of just got knocked back on its on its heels and all the store shelves were empty at the grocery store and we were having runs on all the commodities and stuff like that. I was actually in Florida at the time and I started getting phone calls from clients and especially those four deals from the bankers and the CPAs and the advisors and the buyers. And everybody was nervous. And so we spent about five weeks from March six to mid-April where every phone call and every email was negative news, really impacting our revenue and our our ability to conduct our business. In twenty twenty people back and out of deals, putting 30 or 60 day delays with the banks and financing institutions had problems. They sent all their employees to work from home, but they had no systems for them to connect and get in and conduct business in a secure manner.
Matt Gilbert: [00:10:21] And so that was a real tough period, really, in those five weeks where we were just getting kicked in the gut every day and we lost nearly all of our revenue. We were able to pull one of those deals out and salvage it. We closed it on June 1st.
Matt Gilbert: [00:10:39] But other than that one deal, we lost all of our stuff in the pipeline, things that were in the early stages, our valuation work, it all just fell away.
Matt Gilbert: [00:10:53] And so that was a time for a gut check for us for sure.
Sam Mendelsohn: [00:10:59] So so what did so when did you realize you kind of needed that gut check and what did that look like?
Matt Gilbert: [00:11:07] Yeah, well, we're you know, we're a little bit different organization. We're we're very analytical, data driven people.
Matt Gilbert: [00:11:15] And and so we had known all along that the coming out of nineteen and into twenty twenty, we were buying a building in a trendy part of Houston and making plans to to really continue ramping up our business. And part of those plans, you know, included bringing on more people and and and getting a little more sophisticated in the way we do things. And so we had to pump the brakes on all that stuff and, you know, really kind of ask ourselves, you know, do we have what it takes to survive this? No. One, there's a lot of overhead going out and nothing coming in the mailbox.
Matt Gilbert: [00:11:59] Nobody signed up for a new business.
Matt Gilbert: [00:12:02] And and so, you know, Brett and I put our heads together and it didn't take very long for for us to kind of verbalize that we were committed to this this business and to our clients and to our associates. And so we decided to just pull all of that back, put the brakes on behind the new facility and doing all the upgrades and and get back to blocking and tackling. And for us back to the basics meant, you know, working that pipeline to acquire new business. And then, you know, for us, the revenue is minimal in the first six months of our relationship with a new client. So how do we survive that period between almost zero revenue and to where we can ramp back up with new clients?
Matt Gilbert: [00:12:53] And so for us, it was back to back to the very basics. And Scott is going to join us on this this webinar. And one of the decisions that came out of that was to. Elevate a director of marketing to an immediate need, something that we had been kicking around and looking for the right guy for quite a while, but we moved that up to number one on our priority list and then to kind of all hands on deck back to business development and going out and find and find and revenue.
Sam Mendelsohn: [00:13:29] Yes, so so let's bring let's bring Scott on, I think I think, Scott, your you're here. Hey, there you are. All right, so, Scott, so so thanks for joining us. So, Scott, what's what's your role as a cop? And tell us a little bit about how you came on.
Scott Bastian: [00:13:48] So I actually have some conversations to a mutual friend. Actually, from my background, I'm a certain type of leader.
Scott Bastian: [00:13:58] And through some connections within the Christian community as well as the church, Matt and I were able to get introduced to one another. He and I share a lot of the same core values and beliefs and our is servant leadership and managing relationships, helping others become successful. And we just kind of collaborated and hit it off. And at that point, during that discussion, which was really kind of the premise of start covid, we continue to have some dialogue as to what they were experiencing with some of the things that I was seeing, some of my past experiences.
Scott Bastian: [00:14:37] And we just began to have back and forth what I would call brainstorming sessions, where we were sharing ideas, best practices, exact and over a period of time, had an opportunity to meet some of the other key contributors and stakeholders within the firm and from a culture and no pun intended chemistry perspective. I just felt that bond and that connection and then it just sort of morphed into a role that we could develop and define and then more importantly, built out a job description and ultimately KPIs that would drive success for that role. And that is very, very cool.
Sam Mendelsohn: [00:15:22] So so when you said when you started, you know, even part of the brainstorming, like, what were some of the things you're kind of going through this? What are some of the what were some of the things that you you identified were key areas that that you'd be able to make a positive contribution towards? Like what were some of the the things that you looked at the business and you're like, hey, look, these are what Matt said, blocking and tackling that we got to start doing in business development.
Scott Bastian: [00:15:50] So it was kind of neat as an outsider, not knowing their business intimately and again, not necessarily having the experience.
Scott Bastian: [00:15:59] I had the ability to come in and ask a lot of questions sight unseen and to establish trust. So by doing so again as Natalie to recovered even during covid, some of the processes and the activities they were doing were incorrect. Actually, they were very good. But what happened is the environment changed, right? People's lives change, people's focus changed, but more importantly, the mindset changed. So what we did is there's a team is had that conversation ask the questions that say, what are we doing extremely well? What do we seem to be able to capture value on?
Scott Bastian: [00:16:40] But more importantly, how do we build off of the continued successes that we are having? And one of the questions that I'll tell you that I ask all the time is how do you monetize the process? So if you do something well, how do you continue to convert on that and then drive either residual income or extra income from that past success? So what we did is we kind of took a little bit of a step back and not stepping back from that, we did something wrong, but just kind of an inward look to say, what are we doing? Well, from a process standpoint, what can we optimize? And then more importantly, what we're doing as well as an adult, say what?
Scott Bastian: [00:17:23] Can we double down and then maybe be able to either get those returns or help escalate or drive velocity in the process?
Sam Mendelsohn: [00:17:32] So so what were some of those things specifically that that you guys were doing? Well on that that I guess you let's start with what you were doing not so well that you stopped doing. Were there any of those things?
Matt Gilbert: [00:17:53] Yeah, you know, I don't know that there are things that we stop doing, we re prioritized for sure. And so we moved, you know, we're a small firm, we're about ten people.
Matt Gilbert: [00:18:06] And and and so we can only be working on a handful of key initiatives in any one time. And what we did is we kind of dropped some initiatives down the ladder and elevated those that have to do with reaching out to the business community.
Matt Gilbert: [00:18:26] One of the things that that that certainly the audience doesn't know about us is, is our firm is very steeped in servant hood. And so education of the business owner community is is one of our key pillars. And and so elevating the fact that we're getting educational content out there where we're having those conversations with people who especially business owners who have had a 10 or 11 year bull run, have forgotten what it's like to be in crisis mode and to be a resource for them to come in and say, hey, this is what I'm experiencing or this is what I'm feeling. How do you guys see it? And then the other thing that we haven't talked about with the audience here is, you know, we built a stable of CPAs and CFOs and former business owners on our staff. So Scott and I have this resource internally to where, you know, if we get somebody who owns a certain type of business, we we may be able to look inside the house and say, well, hey, this guy has been in your shoes. Let's get him on the phone and let's have a conversation. And so, you know, bring value to to the prospecting process in a very early basis.
Sam Mendelsohn: [00:19:47] And so that's pretty cool.
Sam Mendelsohn: [00:19:48] So so if you look at Lake Lake, even one of the the you know, you talk about how you prioritize certain projects, right. So what project made its way all the way to the top?
Matt Gilbert: [00:20:00] Totally focus on marketing and get that person that turned out to be got on board and then to spend a tremendous amount of time, Scott.
Matt Gilbert: [00:20:14] Help me out here. But you spent probably six or eight weeks interviewing our staff and discovering what we're doing, what's working and what's not working so well.
Matt Gilbert: [00:20:25] And then that in between a few key players coming up with with a new marketing strategy that really wasn't anything new. It was just kind of reshuffling the deck a little bit.
Sam Mendelsohn: [00:20:37] So what so what does that strategy look like now? Like what? What do you guys move towards?
Scott Bastian: [00:20:44] We are saying we pretty much focus on the five main things, how do we attract clients or prospects?
Scott Bastian: [00:20:51] Secondly, the tools that we use and value builder to basically qualify them, then the next step is through the conversations that we spoke about earlier, having the conversations to nurture those relationships and ultimately making sure there's an alignment between the client prospect's culture.
Scott Bastian: [00:21:10] Their needs are valued as well as our culture, and ultimately that leads to engage and we keep it very simple like that.
Scott Bastian: [00:21:20] So, again, it's that where the assessment becomes really that first part of the screening process, because that really establishes that basic trust between us and either the prospect or eventual client, because if they're truthful in that assessment, that allows us to begin to either establish, define or put together that roadmap to either continue to help them drive and grow the business or to prepare the business for a future or potential exit transaction, which, as you know, can vary from a couple of different outcomes.
Sam Mendelsohn: [00:22:02] So how do you like what steps do you take just to back it up from the top? Like where do you get that first name from? You know, where do you find the people's names? Is it then walk me through how you go from there to get them to take the assessment. Like, what does this process kind of look like? So go ahead.
Matt Gilbert: [00:22:21] I'm sorry, Scott. One of the things that we did write right when we decided to hire Scott and bring him on immediately is we also went and put our money where our mouth is. We invested in some paid campaigns to market to business owners and verticals where we have a tremendous amount of experience.
Matt Gilbert: [00:22:46] And we've recently closed some deals. And so so where do we get the leads? A lot of that is coming through those those campaigns that that are actually incredibly expensive. And so each one of those leads is very precious. Right. I didn't want to pay to to get those and not have a process in a person to walk them through. And so once Scott came on, we started doing that. We have a tremendous referral network. We've done a lot of deals. We're in a big market in Houston. We're visible and in other places in the country as well. We're not geographically confined, although we haven't done anything outside of the United States. And I know you have an audience around the world.
Matt Gilbert: [00:23:36] And so, you know, the referral network and then the paid the paid marketing campaigns are driving leads to us. Right.
Matt Gilbert: [00:23:45] And so and that's our desire is is to have those leads driven to us instead of us going out and fishing for for leads. And then once they're driven to us, really, Scott has has become a master at jumping in and saying, hey, prospect, before we really get into a deep conversation with you, you know, we have a tool that's going to help that conversation go so much better for both parties and really kind of cut through level the playing field for for all of us. And that is the assessment. And so if you would spend 10 or 15 minutes of your time, take the assessment. Once we see the results, then we'll schedule that first phone call.
Sam Mendelsohn: [00:24:28] So basically, like on first, like on first, like on the first conversation, you know, Scott, you're basically saying like, hey, go go get the assessment, the value builder assessment take and like the questionnaire.
Scott Bastian: [00:24:41] Yeah, each as you can imagine, each lead or opportunity is unique.
Scott Bastian: [00:24:46] So we'll get a sample of responses. Hey, I was intrigued by your message. Would like to have some more dialogue or it can be as simple as a one letter word that says interested, which is of course, that's tough to interpret. Right.
Scott Bastian: [00:25:02] But you want to continue to have the dialogue or somebody to be as simple as, say, here's my cell phone number, call me. So again, we don't always know how to interpret that from an email because it's only two dimensional.
Scott Bastian: [00:25:16] So part of the process or what we call a relationship and establishing that trust is starting that dialogue on that next step to kind of do some inquiry.
Scott Bastian: [00:25:29] But in the same instance, letting them know that the best value that we can give them back is to really understand where their business is at today and through the assessment tool, that value builder.
Scott Bastian: [00:25:45] We are able to facilitate a much more meaningful conversation and have that immediate connection to the prospect of the client, but I think one of the things that mattered indicated is it allows us to ask some really intimate questions and really start getting into the process, as well as starting to put that strategy and vision, what we call defining that roadmap for success for the client slash prospect.
Scott Bastian: [00:26:15] Not many other firms give any take that type of approach.
Scott Bastian: [00:26:20] It's like, well, you're interested, call me. And it's really more of a transactional based or work facility facilitating more of a trust relationship, conversation, engagement.
Scott Bastian: [00:26:33] And as that flourishes.
Scott Bastian: [00:26:35] We have very, very low rates where people don't take that assessment.
Scott Bastian: [00:26:41] If we ask them to do that and say, OK, go ahead, say we have a question.
Sam Mendelsohn: [00:26:46] Yes, that's pretty cool. So, OK. And so the they take the assessment. And one of the interesting things, like when we were talking way before this and I'm really hoping that you elaborate on this is how you guys said something really interesting to me, which is that you could ask for the proposal.
Sam Mendelsohn: [00:27:03] Right. You know, like how do you go from take the assessment to, you know, you you you going and getting asked for a proposal like what's that conversion step like?
Sam Mendelsohn: [00:27:17] What's that that that that cool thing that's happening there?
Matt Gilbert: [00:27:20] Well, let me tell you a story. Scott and I had a phone call with the guy that I think 4:30 last night who is a prospect that has come through this thing just like we're talking about.
Matt Gilbert: [00:27:34] He's in another city. We get on the phone and it's it's our desire to to just deliver value to these people here, you know, what what their issues or their concerns are, and then show them that that a know that's part of the process is part of the cause. It's natural. And let us do something about halfway through, the guy asks if if we have any resources where he can do some self study.
Matt Gilbert: [00:28:05] And and I said, yeah, you know, I'm walking over to my bookshelf now. And we ended up talking to him for for well over an hour. And the last half of the conversation while we were discussing, I was going through my bookshelf looking for a specific book that that was right on first question. And and so, you know, I told him the book name and the author and he said he was going to order it. And then that led to, hey, well, I was thinking about this and how I was thinking about that. And really, we're you know, we're building confidence. We're building trust. This is a trust based relationship is if you're transactional, if you're pushing for a sale and it's it's not going to go well for you. So if it comes naturally and the the moral of the story are the culmination of this story is after about an hour and 20 minutes, he asked what the next step would be.
Matt Gilbert: [00:29:01] And I said, well, you know, we really need to do this. And it costs a little bit of money. How much I could afford that? You know, why don't you guys give me a day or two to talk to my partners and then we'll probably ask you to send the proposal. And that's a pretty typical conversation when we when we get in a discussion with somebody who just took the assessment or recently took the assessment, we have to give them more than an hour in most cases in order to build that rapport to where they want to know what we can do for them and what that next step is. And they'll generally ask.
Sam Mendelsohn: [00:29:43] That's crazy. So so so you go from and it sounds like these are not necessarily like the hottest leads on the planet, like a pain right there.
Matt Gilbert: [00:29:52] People who want to talk. That's that's really all it is.
Sam Mendelsohn: [00:29:56] Just out of curiosity. Like where like, you know, maybe if you're OK revealing this, you know, like, what are these lead sources like? Is it LinkedIn? Is it Facebook are using. That's a great question.
Matt Gilbert: [00:30:07] So that guy was talking to somebody I know on LinkedIn and the guy on LinkedIn said, hey, you ought to meet Gilbert.
Matt Gilbert: [00:30:15] And so he buzzed me and and we had about three quick LinkedIn exchanges.
Matt Gilbert: [00:30:22] And I have a cut and paste blurb that I cut and paste over there.
Matt Gilbert: [00:30:26] And I said, hey, this this conversation looks like it could be helpful to you. Please go take this assessment and let's pick it up on the phone. And so I just dropped that in there. Didn't take much of my time at all.
Matt Gilbert: [00:30:38] But I know after having done hundreds or maybe even a thousand or more of these, I know that the best way for our firm to hear them and steer toward their needs is to get them to go through the filter of taking the assessment where we can see through some of the stuff that's pretty personal.
Matt Gilbert: [00:31:01] And they really won't tell somebody in the first few phone calls or first few LinkedIn or email conversations. And so that brings out a lot of personal data. We can see when I had a guy the other day down towards the end of the assessment and ask what your net profit was for the last three years, he put one dollar or two dollars and three dollars. And, you know, so we get all these crazy things. A lot of people, I think, would in fact, some people in our organization were like, oh, that guy's not serious. Well, Scott calls the guy and he's like, look, that's none of your business. I don't have a confidentiality agreement. I don't know who you are. An hour later, he just emails his financials over.
Matt Gilbert: [00:31:43] So, you know, it's it really is being personable and and just pursuing people where they are at and showing them the value of this tool. And and what we do through value builder and our other services can can do to help them achieve what they're trying to achieve.
Sam Mendelsohn: [00:32:02] So what like like how do you grab that guy that says one dollar, two dollars, three dollars and turn them into, you know, what's your method or your process or your objection handling to get them to give you that information? Because, I mean, some of it is really personal, obviously.
Matt Gilbert: [00:32:20] Yeah, it is. It's every case is a little bit different, but I think it's just being real. You know, I'm I'm upstairs in my house. We're all working from home now. My dogs barking in the background. My kids are in the pool, you know, and and these guys.
[00:32:42] I think a lot of times it's just, hey, I'm a real guy, put my pants on just like you, but I've been in your shoes, right? I was I was that business owner I was thinking about selling a few years ago.
Matt Gilbert: [00:32:53] And and let's just talk about that. And so one of the things that's just giving them the time, our phone calls, you know, early on I was frustrated, you know, every phone calls an hour to hour and a half, sometimes two hours. And then it was like, well, wait a minute, the longer the call, the more likely a customer. And and so we just started you know, we have a strong team. If if I needed to do something and my calls running long, I'll instant message somebody else and ask them to jump on and take my place. And we just don't cut people off and we offer free ish resources, you know? And I think it's it's. Not transactional, we really do care, and if we don't, that's a 20 minute phone call, we move on. But we've we've we just found a niche and it all starts with this tool. Honestly, I can't stress that enough that if they don't come to us and take the assessment.
Matt Gilbert: [00:33:57] It's like pricing information out of them that they don't want to give because we were a stranger and they don't trust us, and it's we're asking these invasive questions. But if they volunteered those answers already in this assessment, then it's fair game to ask, why did your revenue drop from from 17 to 18?
Matt Gilbert: [00:34:14] Is that did you did you have a crummy project or did somebody quit and take a customer?
Matt Gilbert: [00:34:21] I mean, and and that just leads to a story that they want to tell. Well, you know, you've got to put the time and listen to that and hear the nuggets of information that they're searching for. We can't be the solution to everybody. But you talk to somebody long enough and they're on this path. There's probably something through value builder or through our M&A advisory that we can offer them. And so that's when they ask for the proposal.
Sam Mendelsohn: [00:34:51] And so and so like after after the proposal, because I'm just following. So we've talked about a track. You know, you got your paid sources like LinkedIn and Google and and all these different sources. You've got a cold lead. You'd get them to take the assessment and it's not happening. Got an hour, hour and a half to our conversation. What's this alignment phase? Like, what are you guys doing that in that in that part of the process?
Matt Gilbert: [00:35:18] Yes, that's a that's a very intuitive question that most people don't figure out this quick.
Matt Gilbert: [00:35:26] You know, the business models out there for four business coaches and advisers and consultants and all that, they they're all trying to feed their own need for clients and revenue and getting people in slots and in boxes. And and this alignment thing came from us being business owners, buying companies and selling companies and being in what is now our clients chair. And the frustration that that that consultants and advisers and coaches all wanted to to put us where they wanted us. Right. And so alignment is is is we're going to allow the client to take us where they want to go. If we can look ahead, we're going to we're going to help straighten that line out. So it's not such a zigzag, but one of the things is it is financially, you know. We we have no hourly billing in our company at all. We just won't do it. We we don't feel like that's an alignment with our client's best interests. So we either do things on a lump sum cost or we're signed up for kind of a retainer type revenue, which we have found eliminates questioning how many hours you spend, that kind of thing. Like think about your lawyer bill or your CPA bill and the bill for 15 minutes. There's a lot of consultants in our market, Bill, so we just won't do it at alignment is we'll go to your office, we'll get in your term, we'll be in your world. We'll make it convenient for you to do business with us. And so that has a lot of nuances to what that word means. But but we take it very seriously. And if you want to add to that.
Matt Gilbert: [00:37:23] You're on mute.
Sam Mendelsohn: [00:37:28] I mean, it kind of it kind of it kind of it sounds to me like it fits in line with what you were saying before in terms of servant leadership and then, you know, meeting people where they're at. Right.
Matt Gilbert: [00:37:46] Yeah, we we strive very, very hard, in fact, we have meetings a couple of times a week about whether or not.
Matt Gilbert: [00:37:59] What plan were on, what path we're on, what the client is actually going to take them where they want to be, not where we want to be, and and then we find out a lot of times that a client wants to be somewhere we don't want to go. And so then we begin the separation process. But we you know, we we're very, very in tune to what they're trying to do to the point we're all in. A lot of times I will insist until it happens that I speak with the client spouse. Or I'll speak with other members of their management team to make sure that, you know what what's coming out of them is as accurate to the business life, there is no to make quick and sound.
Scott Bastian: [00:38:54] The other thing is sometimes we're the first people to share something with them that they thought was optimized for what they were doing. Well, but through our process of combination of what we call filtering or attracting, qualifying and then, of course, getting to the next step, the Financial Review will we'll discover things in their mind. They thought we were doing what they were doing extremely well, where we have to take a pause and step back and say, listen, Mister Client or Mr. Prospect or Mrs. Bosbach, what we need to do is if you really want to get to a successful exit transaction or a transition with your business, you have to do this, this and this.
Scott Bastian: [00:39:36] Not everybody will take the time or the patience to do that, because sometimes the outcome isn't necessarily going to be a transaction or an engagement.
Scott Bastian: [00:39:48] But I think from our segment based leadership and fiduciary responsibility, as Matt I'll tell you, I always say I feel like it's a moral obligation for us to close out the loop and give these folks options, whether they choose to seize those options or hear or take advice based on a recommendation or suggestion.
Scott Bastian: [00:40:10] They ultimately own that decision.
Scott Bastian: [00:40:13] But servant based leaders and advisers on behalf of Gap, I feel like we're putting everything out there to establish the relationship, the trust, and we're doing that on the front end before the before an event or even a transaction takes place.
Scott Bastian: [00:40:31] And when you do that.
Scott Bastian: [00:40:33] That's, I think, what drives our high probability of success through all the different stages of the process, whether it's the attraction, qualifying, nurturing, converting, engage.
Sam Mendelsohn: [00:40:45] So what about like so so no. And I think that's really helpful. So, you know, you brought up some of these conversion metrics. So how many roughly how many leads do you have to get, you know, in order to turn into an assessment? You know, like can you can you walk me through that funnel that you got in order to get to like a close deal?
Matt Gilbert: [00:41:06] I'll let Matt start and then, yeah, before I go there, I want to say one thing kind of going to build on what Scott said before I lose it, and that is. I think that so many people in our profession are afraid to be confrontational and and especially in the selling process when they're trying to to to get a new client or get revenue in. And we do it in a very non-threatening, very caring way. But if something doesn't smell right, we call it out. And and that really kind of lets a business owner know that they're not going to pull the wool over our eyes. They're not going to push us around that. We are we're the adviser to them. And if we if we let them get away with that, then then we're probably not a worthy adviser. And maybe they don't see us as an equal. They see us as somebody they can push around. And why would they pay somebody like that when, you know, when they're looking for somebody to guide them in a way that took place? They've never been.
Matt Gilbert: [00:42:15] So when you talk about our conversion cycle, what I mentioned earlier, that we're very data driven and so we have a number of leads that we want to target a year. It's not a huge number.
Matt Gilbert: [00:42:32] It's it's a little over hundred and out of those leads, we want to begin to. Qualify them mostly on onsides nail salons and donut shops and little things like that, we want to cull those very quickly. They don't even for the most part, make it to take the free assessment. And so we'd like to get into 50 to 60 conversations that are worthy of going to take the assessment on an annual basis. If we get 50 or 60 of those guys and we have a specific number, but I'm not going to get that nerdy on you, then. We think that and here's a specific number, we think. Thirty six of those will convert to a good quality client over the course of many months. It doesn't happen next week in most cases. It's a very Aitor process. So we take the assessment. We start having these conversations, we start sharing information, kind of proving ourselves. We get we get intimate quick. We ask for financials. We ask for stuff that that that's that's very sensitive. And it's telling to us that they're not ready to share it. If they're not ready to share it, we need we know we need to back up and rebuild trust, but if they are ready to share it, then we're moving towards them requesting a proposal. And for us, that proposal is normally to perform what we call a financial review, a quality of earnings analysis, and culminate with a valuation that says, OK, this is this is where you're at today.
Matt Gilbert: [00:44:12] So this is the baseline of what we're going to start working with. And then from there, you know, we're we're a sales dynamic firm. If they need remedial work or if they need coaching or anything like that, we like to partner up with somebody and and place them out for that help. And we we have a couple of dozen out there that are bettering themselves so they can come back to us later. But but certainly from the valuation conversation, we can see if there is an alignment. You know, it's it's probably at least 50 percent of the time somebody says, I need 18 million before I could sell this place. And we have to sit down and go, well, you know, that's interesting because we've done a market study and we've got facts and data and we've proven to ourselves that the market value of your business is only 11. So there's a huge delta between what you think it's worth and what the market thinks it's worth. And so what do you want to do? Right. There should be two or three options that we can propose to them at that time. But that's not somebody we're going to move forward with in a in a revenue producing relationship. And so out of those thirty six that we get into the the deeper, stronger quality of earnings assessment know only a very small handful are going to move into M&A this year.
Matt Gilbert: [00:45:34] The rest of them, we're going to be working with them to either achieve that super high valuation that they have in their head, which means their business has to get better, which means they ought to be paired up with a coach somewhere or to to bring them down to reality. I have a guy who is eighty three years old, one of forty two million dollars for his company brought him an offer that wasn't anywhere near that from a huge well, I'll say it from Schlumberger. While he's reviewing the offer, he passes away. And some people don't have three years to go work on their company. And and so it's taking all of their variables, matching them up with the market's variables and then the tools that we have at our disposal. And we probably you know, we start with a little over one hundred. We get to 50 or 60. We we do a paid engagement with thirty six or so every year. And that gets us to eight to ten transactions that that pay our bills. And all along the way, we're meeting people that need help. Right. That's that's why they're reaching out to us. They need help. And so we're able to place them. And so our pipeline in the future is enormous because we have all these relationships where we've started to help place them, where they where they can get some help.
Sam Mendelsohn: [00:46:54] I don't know, like just, you know, just out of curiosity, like just, you know, when they say that, hey, I'm not I'm not ready to talk to you yet or you've got them in a holding pattern like are using the nurture cycle tools are using the built to sell radio and all that kind of content in order to keep them warm, like, you know, how do you use our tool in that regard?
Matt Gilbert: [00:47:20] Yeah, we we have I don't want to say the number, but we have a tremendous amount of business owners in there and their trusted advisers, which would be CPAs and attorneys and stuff, who get that podcast every week. They get the white papers that know puts out. We produce internally. We produce additional educational content on top of that. So we're dripping on them consistently. And and it's our desire to drip educational value on them. Answer the questions that we know they're asking themselves when they're laying their head on the pillow at night or or when they had a bad day at work and they're frustrated with their business. We're going to put those answers out there. And then, you know, it's great that there's a repository, there's a library of all built to sell episodes on our website. We've got we've got a library, a lot of the material we put together. And so sometimes we'll get into a conversation with somebody will say, hey, this isn't new. Listen to this podcast. Go check out this white paper. We'll forward it to you when we hang up. And that just builds trust and drives them back to us and a little bit later day.
Sam Mendelsohn: [00:48:35] Pretty cool. I've got I've got I've got a lot of questions, the biggest one center around like what the most effective ad network is like, is it LinkedIn, is it Facebook? And and roughly another one, if you're OK sharing it. You know how much? How much? What is your cost per lead roughly.
Matt Gilbert: [00:49:01] Yeah.
Matt Gilbert: [00:49:04] It's a lot, let's call it thousands. Wow. Yeah.
Matt Gilbert: [00:49:12] I don't like Google, I don't like LinkedIn, we haven't tried Facebook, what works for us is we've settled on a third party vendor. In this case we call my partner because we work very closely with them to put custom tailored messages in front of people that that we're creating lists.
Matt Gilbert: [00:49:39] We want to target these people specifically with a specific message. So we've got an outside agency that really helps us get that right.
Matt Gilbert: [00:49:49] Look, professional presenta get it through their firewalls, on their emails or, you know, make sure that the message hits the people that we want to target and and know it's effective for us. Our firm is doing great. We're we're growing. We we started this conversation by saying we tank to nearly zero in revenue. Right now. We're we're back up. We're going to have a fantastic twenty twenty. We've got four deals in the works. We've got prospects out the wazoo again. And all that has been since March where it felt like there was nothing. And so when we dialed it back, Rawdon's got really focused on this part of our business. You know, it has paid off. So we feel very blessed that that we kind of cracked the code for the type of client, the type of revenue that we need for our friend Sam to build off of that.
Scott Bastian: [00:50:48] I would tell you, for all those that are listening is and I know this costs more it takes more time.
Scott Bastian: [00:50:55] And that's where people get caught in that shotgun on their phishing approach, where they're using social media or other platforms. Take the time to go back and define what you want and what your needs are in set your filter. Accordingly, it will cost you more in resources. It will cost you more in investment. But I promise you, the outcome will pay for itself in huge dividends. And I'll give you an example.
Scott Bastian: [00:51:24] In just the three days of this week, business days of of two of the assessments we've talked to, we've already received referrals from those folks. And by the way, we haven't even engaged in a transaction yet, but they're comfortable enough with us from a trust perspective that they're advancing our behalf. Their reputation to their trusted advisers are correct. And even in that can attest to this, we're now getting stuff that's coming to us through late did. So the word's getting out there that we are the advisors of trust in the partner for this type of process.
Scott Bastian: [00:52:04] And it's not coming through Facebook or LinkedIn or social media as much as through conversations, engage in conversation and more importantly, listening.
Sam Mendelsohn: [00:52:15] So it's crazy. So you actually got you guys go and and, you know, it'll be like my last question. But you actually go you ask your business owners who are in the process with you for a referral to another business owner, actually, they're offering them.
Scott Bastian: [00:52:29] We don't even have to ask them that. Yeah.
Matt Gilbert: [00:52:34] Wow. It is the guy that Scott's talking about specifically we're going to talk to for thirty this afternoon.
Matt Gilbert: [00:52:43] He called back and he said, I have a buddy that's a bigger company than mine. I started telling him about our conversation and he wants to talk to you guys.
Matt Gilbert: [00:52:52] Scott was like, great, what time is it? I think it's because.
Matt Gilbert: [00:53:01] We've amassed a team over here that really, really cares. We love what we do and and we love being a value. We know where we can be a high value and where we can't.
Matt Gilbert: [00:53:13] And when we hear something where we can't be a value, we're honest. We say it, we move on or or we'll refer them to somebody we know that they can. And for instance, coaching, we do very little coaching in our practice. We refer most of that stuff out to somebody who fits a personality or a business segment or whatever, because we know if we spread ourselves too thin, trying to do too many things for too many people, the quality's going to drop. So what are we better than anybody else that, in our opinion, sell side representation? Everything else leads to that, but we're not going to do it in-house. And so we're not afraid to spend big money to to get our leads because we know that they're the the highest quality league. And that highest quality lead leads to the revenue that we need to sustain and grow our business. And it's it's been an iterative process where four and a half years in where we haven't perfected it.
Matt Gilbert: [00:54:16] But, you know, from March till now, we we had to stop what we were doing, question everything, ask ourselves what what's most effective and what's right for this period in time. And that's that's part internal, but it's part external. What are those prospects facing? What are they feeling? What are one of the things that they're feeling is that, gosh, if I sell my company right now during covid, you know, the only buyers out there looking for an extreme bargain, well, that's just not true. There's a divergence in the buying community where a whole section of the buying community went and said, all we want to do is bargain hunt, know, we want to buy stuff cheap, will nurse it back to health for a few years and flip it and sell later. But the other part of the buying community has gone this way and they've gone to flight to quality. Right. And so they want to buy the best business in its class, in its geography or segment or space. And those buyers are flush with cash. They're ready to pay really nice valuations, very frothy compared to historical norms. And so what I'm telling prospects is, look, you if you don't fit here and you don't fit here, just don't get caught in the middle. There's nothing going on in the middle right now. Either you're distressed or your best in class. And if you're not one of those, don't work on yourself to be best in class.
Matt Gilbert: [00:55:43] All right, that's kind of the message.
Sam Mendelsohn: [00:55:45] That's that's awesome also, I think I think that just sums it up beautifully. Guys, I can't thank you enough for you for coming on and sharing your story and spending time with us. I think we actually got through a lot of the questions. For those of you that still have outstanding questions, we are going to make sure that you get those answered with your customer success manager. For those of you that are interested in how we actually go about making, getting getting you to be like Scott, like Matt, we've got a program. It's called Smart Start. The deadline is August thirty.
Matt Gilbert: [00:56:25] First for this cohort. The way that we go about doing that is. Is really I'll just go into that in a second. We've got a great training program, but just so you know, the next adviser webinar is actually going to be the inside value builder system. Look for it in the customer success portal so that you can join it. And in two weeks, we're going to have the value builder tool spotlight. Just to talk a little bit about our Smart Start program, really what Smart Start is, is that it gives you a roadmap for integrating the value builder system into your firm. It's then got a formula for boosting your sales and marketing to leverage the system accordingly. And then finally, you're going to get a playbook for coaching and advising your clients through to build the value of their company. This is a very, very unique program, because what we do is that we instantaneously start with practice integration, which is all about a self-paced hands on tutorial that helps you build out the value of your own practice so that it fits in line with the value builder system. We then go through a full certification process and you get your CVB, your your certified value builder through an eight course program that takes about a month to complete.
Sam Mendelsohn: [00:57:50] It's led by some of the most senior value builder members. And you will get your designation at the end of this. Once that's complete, you actually go straight into our 13 week virtual mastermind program that is led by John Nunberg. It's full of sales and marketing strategies and how to grab your valuables or practice and your practice integrated together and then go and really do speaking in workshop engagements, telemarketing, social media, build on referrals, just like Matt and Scott talked about today and how to really go about making sure that you're able to promote your practice. Last but not least, we then go into a 13 week virtual mastermind with Susan Clement, who's one of our wisest, I would say our wisest, one of our wisest certified value builders. She will go right through the 12 step coaching platform and walk you through exactly how to deliver this to a client. It's an incredible experience that really gives you the ins and outs of the value builder system as well as our methodology. The results are just insane. So we very quietly did a study, looked at what happened to somebody before they had smart start before they went through this program versus what they did afterwards.
Sam Mendelsohn: [00:59:14] For every single engagement, they actually had to put out nine reports, nine assessments after smart start. What was really crazy is that the numbers actually went up. They would literally put out three times more engagement. We've got three times more paying clients with only 20 reports. It's insane if you think about it, because what ends up happening is that you have two hundred more two hundred percent more reports, but three hundred percent more engagements. And the insanity is that your business owners really believe you. They trust you. It's the stuff that Matt and Scott are talking about where they trust you so much and they actually trust the system so much that they're spending five times more time inside of the system itself. So really crazy results that actually continue after after they did their Smart Start program. So in the second plus year, they continue to get even more reports, more engagements, and are more successful then than than than somebody who didn't go through the program. We we had David go through the program. And the crazy thing is that he's sitting in his fourth week inside a smart start.
Sam Mendelsohn: [01:00:30] And just right then and there, he filled up his very first group mastermind at a thousand dollars each with eight business owners, just like nothing.
Sam Mendelsohn: [01:00:41] James, for example, he actually said that the platform is amazing, just like just like Matt and Scott here have said, but also that the entire experience was just incredible, the amount of learning that he got out of the system and these Smart Start program just just really helped him fit value to right into his practice very, very quickly. Similar to to to James. Todd and Chris really have managed to grab our marketing assets. And I love the story because Todd is actually a marketer by nature, grab our marketing assets and managed to fit it right into his practice in order to promote both their businesses as advisors. We walk you right through this nine month program, the day that you start as a certified as a value builder. And we'll walk you right through from your practice integration through to your month one to three of your certified value builder. You earn that. You learn very hands on how to sell and market your your practice, culminating in how to go and deliver that coach master program so that you can deliver a value builder engagement with confidence. We're limited to only 10 participants. Last time I checked, we've got only three spots left and the deadline to sign up is August thirty first. So I really, really suggest that you guys get online and talk to your customer success manager about joining and we do have one hundred percent smart start guarantee. So if you are not completely satisfied, we will credit your account with one hundred percent of your smart start investment. OK, and last but not least, if you are interested in this, just type the word smart into the questions and I'll make sure to get somebody to reach out to you guys. I really want to thank you for your time.
Sam Mendelsohn: [01:02:43] And I want to thank Matt and Scott for coming on, sharing your story and telling us all about what you guys do and how you do it, because I just think it's just awesome when we get online and we share this. I'm really hoping, guys, that what we also end up doing is go on to the Facebook group that we have and just continue the conversation there. Any questions that you guys have listening in? Be sure to ask them on the Facebook group and we'll we'll get them answered and we'll continue the conversation there. So, guys, thank you so much for joining and really have a great day and good luck.
[01:03:23] Thanks to you. Have a blessed day - take care.