EPISODE 676: A Turkish Shoe Shiner’s Sales Trick Gave Stephen Steers This Insight

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Today’s show featured an interview with sales content creation expert Stephen Steers.

Find Stephen on LinkedIn.

STEPHEN’S TIP:  “What is going to get people to come towards me and ask me questions about things? Is that good content? Is that some things that you talked about on a podcast? Is that great lead magnets that are really adding so much value that they’re overwhelmed and need to hit you up and have you do it them?  Really take some time and leverage the personalization.”


 Fred Diamond: I got Stephen Steers on the show today. Stephen, give us an introduction.

Stephen Steers: I’m Stephen Steers, native of New York City, and I helped professional service firms and agencies tell the stories that get their customers excited to buy so they can increase close rates, increase their pipeline, and grow their revenue. And I have a lot of fun doing it.

Fred Diamond: All right, where are you located, by the way?

Stephen Steers: I live in Mexico City, Mexico. Sunny and lovely food and lovely people. Come down and hit me up if you’re on your way.

Fred Diamond: All right, Stephen Steers, tell us a sales story.

Stephen Steers: All right, so this story starts off in the early days of 2020, before the world went crazy. I had the fortune to be invited out to Istanbul, Turkey, to teach some

workshops to local entrepreneurs out there.

Great experience, had a lot of fun doing it. And I was working crazy hours. I was working Turkish hours and New York hours, as one does when you have a business.

But on one of the few days that I got some time free, I wanted to explore the city. If you’ve ever been to Istanbul, or if you’ve never been to Istanbul, there’s a ton of history there. And I love history. So I started walking around in all these different neighborhoods, and eventually one I wound up in was called the Galata Tower Square.

The Galata Tower was built, I want to say, in, like, the 500s or some, sometime around then. And it served a ton of different purposes throughout the history of the city. It was a dungeon. It was a lookout tower for fires. And it’s one of the tall peaks that you can see that’s been around for a very long time in the city.

This neighborhood is so old that the streets are too thin for cars to go around and navigate through. So I get into the neighborhood, and I start at the bottom of the hill. Very windy, windy streets and roads. And as I’m starting to walk, I have my camera out. I’m sure I look like a tourist. You could tell I’m not from there. And as I start walking in the neighborhood, I see this guy who has his shoe shining box walking towards me. You know, it’s the typical Turkish. It’s got, like, little gold frills. It’s very specific and signature to his, his specific family in his region, whatever.

And as he walks past me, his brush, his shoe shining brush falls out of the box. And I’m, like, kind of in a rush. I have to go back and do some workshops in about an hour or two. So I was kind of like, ah, should I say anything? And then I thought about it. I was like, well, if I drop something, I’d love somebody to tell me that I dropped it, right?

Golden rule. That’s what my parents taught me.

And so I kind of hesitate. But then I see that he’s just walked on and he’s not even picking the brush up. So I was like, well, hey, let me call after him. And I don’t speak any Turkish. I think I know, like, five words. And I said what I believe to be hello, which is mehdhabah.

And I was like, mehabah, mehabah. And I yelled after him, and, like, he spins on a dime and turns towards me, and I was like, you dropped. You dropped.

And I pointed his brush, and he goes over, and he starts, like, almost on tears. He’s like, oh, my goodness. Thank you so much for finding this. I feed my family with this, and he’s very broken English speaking to me. He’s like, oh, you’ve saved my life. You’ve saved my day. You’ve fed my family.

And I was like, okay, no problem.

Then he kind of corners me, and he’s like, I will shine your shoes as a thanks for giving me back my brush. And I was like, no, man, I’m okay. I don’t need any shoes shining right now.

And he’s like, no, no, I will shine. I will shine.

I was like, no, thanks. Cause I had on Vans. I don’t need any shoes shines. Cause I have Vans on.

And so, like, I’m trying to get away from him. He’s being a little pushy.

And then at that exact moment, on the kiddie corner, three stories up, someone bursts open their window and starts yelling at him in English, which I thought was very strange. And they’re like, you always drop your brush and you bother the tourists.

I was like, what the heck? And as he turns around, I make my escape and start walking up the hill.

And then, like, my sales brain’s ticking over and over and over again.

And I was like, wow, that’s a genius way to generate leads. So while it has its kind of sketchy spirits, if you look at the bones of it, it’s really quite genius. And here’s what I mean by this. He was able to play on the story. I would tell myself about being an honest person, to start the conversation and drop a brush in front of me so that I would start a conversation with him so that he could pitch me on what he had to sell.

Now, I don’t like the way that he did that because it’s manipulative. But if we take that and put that into our own way of thinking about sales lead generation and starting conversations, how can each of us drop a brush in front of our clientele, in front of our audiences and the right people to get them to pick it up and come towards us to start a conversation?

And that, I think, is just absolutely brilliant. Absolutely genius. And it’s probably one of the more fun ways I’ve seen street vendors start a conversation.

And so that is my sales story. That’s a great story.

Fred Diamond: You know, we talk all the time. We want people to, you know, the hardest.

One of the hardest parts of sales is that you have to almost invariably do the outreach. And a lot of people have trepidation about outreach, making phone calls, even to customers that they have

a good relationship with, because they don’t want things to go, you know, astray or ask you.

But whenever that we can be, uh, we can do the outreach, or the customer can do the outreach to us. You know, we’re always at an advantage. That’s a great story.

And I’m kind of curious, too, about the person who was watching this, if that was part of it.

I kind of wonder if maybe that person was part of the quote unquote schtick, if you will, to.

But then again, you did. You left, so it wasn’t a very good part of it.

So, Stephen, give us a tip that.

Stephen Steers: My tip here is really take a step back. The market’s changed a lot.

What worked last year or two years ago on LinkedIn or in anything else, I bet you can tell it’s not working the same way. My tip here is really take some steps back and look at your ideal customer and understand what way can you drop the brush for your clientele.That is my tip. Really take some time and some stock.

What is going to get people to come towards me and ask me questions about things? Is that good content? Is that some things that you talked about on a podcast? Is that great lead magnets that are really adding so much value that they’re overwhelmed and need to hit you up and have you do it them?  Really take some time and leverage the personalization.

And I love that story for many reasons. But I think the part where it really got me as a storyteller, as an author who writes about storytelling as well, is he was able to capture the story I told about myself.

And if you could do that with your clientele and the specific audience that you serve, you are really doing something different, something valuable. And you don’t have any competition for that because everybody else is talking about themselves in respect to how they serve their clients.

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