How to double your bankruptcy filings with a 3-step sales funnel (without spending a penny on new leads)

In this episode of Bankruptcy Law Success, we discuss a 3-step sales funnel that can double your bankruptcy revenues (without you spending a penny on new leads). It’s another conversation between me and Philip Tirone, founder and CEO of 720 Systems Strategies.

Some of the highlights in this interview include:

  • Learn how to stop throwing away half your revenue by using a “sales funnel” that holds your prospects’ hand
  • What the “cheese cubes on toothpicks” strategy can teach you about doubling your sales
  • Exactly what the ideal three-step sales funnel looks like, including the “one call close”
  • Why mentioning some benefits of bankruptcy can actually hurt your retain rate…
  • And a whole lot more, including the exact seven-word email that generated an overwhelming number of appointments from a list of “dead” bankruptcy leads

You can listen to the episode by clicking the “play” button in the audio player above, or read a full transcript below.

You can also subscribe to get an email when we release new episodes of the Bankruptcy Law Success podcast.

Bob: Hi, this is Bob Hiler of the Bankruptcy Law Success podcast, where we introduce you to successful bankruptcy lawyers, as well as powerful ideas that can transform your bankruptcy practice. Today, I’m speaking with Philip Tirone, CEO and Founder of 720 System Strategies, which works with hundreds of bankruptcy attorneys around the country to increase the profitability of their firms. He’s based in Phoenix, Arizona.

And Philip, this is your third time back on the podcast, so a very special welcome back to you.

Philip: Bob, always a pleasure to be on this call with you and discuss marketing for bankruptcy attorneys. It’s my pleasure.

Bob: Awesome. OK, so today I want to talk about sales funnels, and by sales funnels, what I mean is just the series of steps that you should ask your prospects to take so that they become clients. That’s how I think of a sales funnel. Philip, what do you think of my definition?

Philip: I love it. I totally agree with it.

Bob: OK. And, I know that you have kind of a complex… You’ve designed like a back-end sales funnel for 720 System Strategies. But in terms of what I want to talk about first, I just want to talk about just very simple… the front- end sales funnel, so the first couple of steps. Does that make sense?

Philip: I love it. Absolutely.

Bob: Okay. So, I’m going to give a simple example of a sales funnel. So you go to a grocery store and the woman offers you a cube of cheese on a toothpick. So that’s like the first step in the sales funnel, whether you take the cheese or not. And then if you like that cheese, then you can buy the whole block of cheese.

So that’s my simple 2-step sales funnel example. Philip, would you say that’s a sales funnel?

Philip: Oh, absolutely. You know it’s sort of like the simple steps to get a prospect to say “yes.” And it’s not… I think about car dealers, right? And the reason why no one likes to buy a car is because a car dealer tries to close you or pressure you into something without building the value. And a proper sales funnel builds the value little by little by little, so that you’re not feeling sold and that’s the thing about the cheese, right?

Bob: Yeah.

Philip: “Hey do you want a free cheese?” “Sure. Let me try the cheese. Oh, I like the cheese.” They’re not saying to you, “Hey, buy the cheese.”

Bob: Yep.

Philip: Right? Yeah, no, I totally agree.

Bob: So, in this very simple example, in that first step, what you’re doing is you’re de-risking the cheese taste. Maybe they like the cheese, maybe they don’t like the cheese, you’re solving that problem. You’re de-risking whether they like the cheese or not by offering that cheese cube.

And ideally, for each of those steps in your sales funnel, you’re de-risking something, or as you said, you’re building the value. And I would add to that you’re building the relationship, because I think that’s very important as well.

Philip: Yeah. And you know, Bob, one other thing that I want to point out is that every step in the sales funnel is a proxy of something else. So for example, if they say “yes” to cheese, you know they like cheese, right? If they say yes to “Oh, do I want information on ‘How to rebuild your life after bankruptcy’?” Wow, you know they may be interested in it, right? It’s a proxy for something else to determine: is this client a fit for me or not. So yeah.

Bob: Yeah, I think that’s a great point. Like every step in the sales funnel, what you’re doing is getting people who are interested in maybe moving forward to raise their hand.

Philip: Absolutely.

Bob: So with the cheese thing, you have 100 people walk by the cheese lady or the cheese guy — I don’t want to be sexist — walking by the cheese person and then 10 people say “yes” that they want to taste the cheese, and those people are either hungry or they really like cheese.

Philip: Yeah. I mean, you don’t want to even try to sell cheese to someone who doesn’t like cheese, right?

Bob: Yeah, that’s a very good point.

Philip: Clearly, right?

Bob: OK, so today, we’re going to be talking specifically about sales funnels for bankruptcy attorneys. And I want to talk about the three steps that I think you want to ask your prospective bankruptcy clients to do because they increase sales. And, as part of that, we’re going to be talking about some of the steps that you don’t want prospects to do because they decrease sales.

So, Philip, let’s start off with just three quick examples of steps that I think that you don’t want to ask your prospects to take and maybe you could tell me what’s wrong with each of these steps or maybe you think it’s a good idea. We’ll get into that, OK?

Philip: Sure, yeah.

Bob: OK, so one bankruptcy lawyer that I know, he sends prospects a long form to fill out before they retain him. It’s like 37 pages and it’s got all this information like: “What’s your income? What’s your wife’s income? What’s his Social Security number?” And then he rarely hears back from them. So, Philip, what’s the problem with that, if that’s one of the steps in your sales funnel?

Philip: Well, it’s complicated. If I wanted to make it very simple, it’s complicated. In marketing, there’s something called the greased slide. And picture it like a water slide, right? What was that?

Bob: Joe Sugarman.

Philip: Joe Sugarman. Of course, of course. And so he talks about this water slide and we’ve all been down a water slide where there’s a part of the water slide that does not have water and it slows you down, right? So, in marketing, you want every part of your sales funnel to be easy. And when someone gets this big form to fill out, what happens is they hit the eject button. They’re like “I’ll get to it later,” right? It just slows down the process. It doesn’t solve the problem for the client.

And what happens is they put it off… And then they think about it a month later, and what do they do? They go on Google and say “bankruptcy attorney near me,” and that person just lost that client. That’s where I go with it.

Bob: And you if were to fix that sales funnel… someone had that as their sales funnel and you had to fix it with one small change, what would that small change be?

Philip: Where my mind goes is what… You mean in terms of the form?

Bob: Yeah. This is a leading question. So what I’ll say… Or maybe I’ll just give you my answer and you can react to it…

Philip: Yeah.

Bob: If I were to fix it with one small change, just ask them. Go for the close. Ask them to retain you before you give them the long form.

Philip: Yeah. Well, absolutely. And if they don’t say “yes” to that retain, back it up. And what of the long form? What are the things that you absolutely need so that you can identify their problem, right? And you can speak into that emotion. I totally agree, Bob. I totally agree.

Bob: OK. So a second step for you to look at. This is another lawyer, and they have a receptionist that talks to prospects over the phone for about two minutes. They set up an in-person consultation, and this lawyer’s no-show rate is through the roof. So, any ideas there?

Philip: Well, every time someone calls your office, that’s potential money coming in the door, right? And as we’ve chatted before about, it shocks both of us how people will give that… precious dollars to an untrained assistant or someone who just doesn’t understand how to build an emotional connection with the client to get them to show up. They’re like an order taker.

And unfortunately, bankruptcies are not like ordering Domino’s Pizza. I mean you’re going to get pepperoni pizza at Domino’s? Okay, you’re gonna get it, you can get an order taker. But, with bankruptcy, it’s different because there’s so many emotions involved, right? So I agree with your point that this is a huge money loser for the attorney.

Bob: Yes. We’re going to get into this in a bit in more detail but I would just say for now that it’s not enough to set the appointment. You also have to make people want to show up for the appointment. And so you’re going to need to work a little bit harder than just having a transactional conversation about “when is a good time for you?” over two minutes. We’ll get into what that ideal call should cover shortly, but, yeah, that’s the first problem I have with it.

And the second problem that I have with it is they’re going for in-person consultation and depending on where you are that — where the client is versus where the lawyers offices is — that might be a 30 minute drive. So maybe [instead of] going for that in-person consultation, maybe go for the phone consultation, I think your show rate is going to be a lot higher. That’s my take.

Philip: I totally agree. And more importantly, Bob, we’ve seen this with our clients, right? This isn’t a knee-jerk reaction, a gut instinct that you think will work.

Bob: Yeah.

Philip: You’ve proven this with all your clients across the country, where all of the calls you’ve listened to, the hundreds of calls you’ve listened to, right? I mean this is not conceptual. This is not anecdotal. This is what you know to be true.

Bob: And everyone always talks about split tests, like let’s have one person do this and another person do that and then compare the statistics. But like you said, you listen to hundreds of these phone calls… And I can listen to the receptionist setting an appointment with someone who really is not enthused. And I can predict that that person is not going to show up.

Philip: Well, what about that client of yours that you listened to the call and you didn’t want to say anything to the assistant or you didn’t want to e-mail anything or you didn’t want to offend the attorney… I forgot the exact story, but you said “hey, listen to this call and let me know what you think…”

Bob: Well, that was one of my clients that you actually had referred to me. I didn’t know if his secretary was reading his e-mail, so I just said: “hey, listen to this recorded phone call and tell me what you think,” because I didn’t want the secretary to be like “this is terrible.” And it’s nothing against the secretary. She’s a very, very nice person, but clearly had had no sales training.

Philip: Well, the thing is that they’re not always trained effectively, right? And they just don’t have certain capabilities, right? I mean, there’s a lot of capabilities that I don’t have, and the sad part about it is when the attorney expects certain things from their assistant where they just don’t have the capability and that’s what you were trying to point out with that guy in the story. And I just want to close the loop for everyone listening: the attorney got it, right? He’s like “Oh my gosh!”

Bob: I’ve heard him now twice talking to clients just in the… because I generate leads and the calls are recorded. And he’s arguably the best attorney [I work with], like in terms of his bedside manner. He has either the best closing rates/bedside manner of any of my clients, or he’s in the top two. He’s fantastic. But again it’s not going to matter if the receptionist isn’t setting up meetings for him.

Philip: Well, I mean, and that’s the value. I mean, that’s the key because imagine the money you saved him over the course of the next 12 months. Staggering.

Bob: Yes. So the third thing here is, another attorney, he told me that he likes to meet prospects in person before trying to retain them. So his close rate for phone leads was 5 percent or 1-in-20. So he needs 20 leads in order to get one retainer when he’s dealing with clients over phone. So, any thoughts there?

Philip: Well, I mean you can’t build a bankruptcy business that way. Cost of leads are too expensive, cost to advertise is too expensive. And not only that, what I’ve seen with many of my attorneys — and I just try to get away from it — is if you’re focused on meeting the client over and over and over without the proper qualification, there’s too much time wasted. And we just don’t have that much time to waste in the bankruptcy industry. We just don’t. Because the lead flow is too high.

Bob: So what I ended up doing in this particular situation — this was a client — I told them: “Look, try to close over the phone. Then if you set up a meeting later and the person turns out to be crazy, you don’t want them as a client…” — or whatever the reason is — because he wanted to do an eye-to-eye check of that person to make sure that he wants to take that person on as a client. So I said, “at that point, if you want to refund their initial deposit, whatever it is, you can do that. But go for the close while you’re talking to them on the phone and immediately after that he closed the next two phone calls.

Philip: Wow, good for you. Good coaching. Great coaching.

Bob: I was excited that he actually did that one.

OK, so those are the kinds of steps that we want to avoid. But what I want to do in the next little bit for this podcast episode is to find an ideal set of steps that we want to ask our prospects to take. And what are the ideal steps that we can do that will maximize their bankruptcy filings. So I’ve been doing this for a couple of years and… Philip, how long have you been doing this? How long have you been working with bankruptcy attorneys?

Philip: Six years next month. So exclusively with bankruptcy attorneys.

Bob: Wow. OK, so I’ve kind of designed a three-steps sales funnel for bankruptcy lawyers. You have more experience than I do, so I want you to jump in… I’ll describe the steps of the ideal sales funnel, but I want you to pick apart what I’m going to say, OK?

Philip: Absolutely. No problem.

Bob: Great. So the first step is what I call the 3S First Call. So, we’ll get into what the three S’s stand for in a second, but the goal of that step is to schedule call number 2. And that’s going to be an appointment with the lawyer that the prospect is likely to attend. And going back to what I said earlier, I think the best bet — and call number two — is a phone call appointment. So that’s what the second step is. It’s for the lawyer to do a “one call close” over the phone.

And then the third step is to do a kickoff meeting. And at that point, after that third step, the sales pitch should mostly be done and the filing should mostly be an operational issue.

OK so those are the three steps. Let’s get into each of the three steps now.

The first one is what I call the 3-S First Call. And I made this up the “3-S,” I thought it was cute. But the 3-S call needs to do three things… They all start with S… The first one is that someone needs to listen to caller STORIES of why they’re experiencing financial hardship. So the first S is STORIES.

And then they need to SCHEDULE a time to talk to the attorneys. So schedule. And then they need to SET expectations for the next call.

Let’s get into the STORIES now. Philip, as far as I know, there’s no legal reason that you need to listen to prospects’ story. So why do you think that I think that listening to your story is a good idea?

Philip: Well, because we’re dealing with an emotional client, right? Like this is an emotional sell. Everyone knows… anyone who’s been doing bankruptcy for a while knows that this is an emotional client. And when you’re appealing to the emotion, they want to feel heard. And I’m going to throw something in here. When they feel heard, you’ve got to treat them with dignity, right?

I mean I’ve seen this over and over and over with attorneys. The attorneys that win treat their clients with dignity, right? Because here’s the thing. They’re treated like trash, right? They’re getting hounded by creditor calls. They’re being told like “Oh my God! Your credit is horrible now. You’re paying 25 percent interest rates.” They’re being laughed at when they buy a car, right? They’re beat down.

And if you treat them with dignity and listen to their situation, let me tell you, they will respond. And they will respond in a powerful way. And so that’s why I think you put that in there. And I fully agree with you.

Bob: You know what I mean about “there’s no legal reason to listen to their story?” Like from a bankruptcy lawyer’s perspective, it really doesn’t matter if they have $50,000 in credit card debt or $50,000 in medical debt, right? But that’s just the legal side of things, and we are dealing with people.

Philip: Oh yeah. I mean, it would be easy to just check the boxes and be like, “Well, just tell me, oh, I don’t need to know the reason. Oh yes, $50,000 credit card and you have this student loan, this student loan, this student loan.” But it’s not sticky enough for the client. What we need to do is convert, right? That’s what you’re a master of. That’s why you listen to these calls. That’s why you record every call that comes in. So you can point to the client and say “hey, we’ve got a problem.” You didn’t convert because of this, right? And that is why the stories are so important.

And I want to point something out that you’ve said before and I just want to clarify this. This doesn’t mean you’re going to be on the phone for an hour, right? Just because you’re listening a story doesn’t mean you just let them go on and on and on and on and on. You’re not playing therapist for an hour or two hours., right?

Bob: Yep.

Philip: We’re talking… whatever… 5,10 minutes. Just let them be heard, right?

Bob: Yep. And that’s part of what I would say. You can’t just be silent while they’re talking. You have to be an active participant in the conversation. You have to do what… I think it’s Dale Carnegie, he calls it active listening, where you respond to people and you say: “Oh, that’s too bad. Oh, I’m so sorry.” And it’s not like you’re just letting them babble for five minutes at a time, and then they take a deep deep breath and then they word vomit for another five minutes. You’re listening to them for 5, 10, 20 minutes — whatever it takes — but it’s an investment. And the payoff is that, if you listen to their story, you’re going to dramatically increase the probability that they show up at their next appointment and make them think that you care. And ideally, that should be because you do care.

Philip: I’ve heard this somewhere, I can’t tell you where I heard it… I clearly didn’t come up with it, but someone said to me one time, “Be curious. Be curious with people and with your clients,” right?

That always stuck with me. Because everyone has their own unique story and everyone’s going through their own struggle. And when you actually listen through curiosity… For me it’s easier to actively listen when you’re curious… “Oh, why did that happen? Oh, that happened? Oh, yeah. I understand.”

And if you tie everything they say back to this amazing law that we have federally called the bankruptcy law, right? I mean, if you really think about it, it’s staggering that every eight years… hopefully you don’t need it but you can learn it. You can do it one time. I mean you have $50,000 in debt. You could wipe it off, for fifteen hundred bucks. It’s amazing. Back to you, Bob.

Bob: Well, building on that I do think that the prospects, they often don’t know enough to talk about bankruptcy. So they’ll bring up things like what price, someone somewhere across town is going to do it for cheaper. And it’s because they don’t know enough about bankruptcy. Maybe if they were talking about cars, they could talk about how fast it went from 0 to 60. That kind of thing. But because they don’t know enough to talk about bankruptcy, they can’t.

But they know enough to tell you their story. And that moves the conversation away from price and it establishes that you’re more than a commodity. And I think that’s a really valuable thing.

Philip: Well, and on that note, it’s like when you’re in this emotional state, where you’re hearing their story and you’re tying it back to how bankruptcy will solve the problem. Don’t get in the weeds of like “Chapter 7, Chapter 13, oh, let me tell you what this form is” and all that. No, no, no, no, no…

Let me tell you how great your life is going to be when you solve these problems and the creditors stop calling you tomorrow. What would that look like for you? Let me tell you, maybe you don’t realize this — this is an example — how easy it is to rebuild your life after bankruptcy, right? Anyways, tying that as opposed to the details of… Like, people don’t care about how they get rid of their debt and how they get their life back. They just want to get it back. Would you agree with that, Bob?

Bob: I would agree. To build on what you would say, I would say that in this first call that nobody should be giving the prospect advice, legal or otherwise. It really should just be about listening to the story, scheduling the appointment, and setting the expectations. So I like what you’re saying… I would take some of that and put some of it into the second call with the attorney in the “one call close.” Is that fair?

Philip: Yeah. I totally like that. I totally agree.

Bob: And the last thing I would say on this first step, the 3S First Call, is that it doesn’t take much to get people to tell you their story. But if you’re having trouble getting people tell you their story, the question that I would go with is something like, “So why are you calling a bankruptcy attorney today?” to something that’s very… So “You’re calling a bankruptcy attorney… for some people that’s a big step. How can we help you? What’s going on?”

Philip: Yeah. “What happened in your life that caused you to call today?” Right, I totally agree. Yeah. that’s a great question. “Tell me about your situation.”

Bob: Yes! That’s a great one. “Tell me about your situation.” Yeah. And you know if they say, “Well, when I was a kid…” Then you’re like, “OK. Well, let’s focus on the last couple of years.” You don’t need to hear their entire life story. But you do want to hear how they lost their job at the mill and how the last couple of years have been really hard. Whatever their situation is, exactly as you said.

Philip: Yeah. Absolutely.

Bob: So the next step in this three-step thing is step number 2, is what I call the lawyer’s “one call close.” Have you heard that? “One call close,” have you heard that before?

Philip: Yes, I’ve heard of the one call close. I mean I don’t know if I’ve heard it in this context, but definitely I’ve heard of the one call close.

Bob: So I’ve heard of the concept of the “one call close” from a guy, his name is Claude Whitacre. He has a book called One Call Closing, and it basically is just that you try to close on that one call. Now, there are certainly things that you can do in the back-end that I want to… There are certainly things that you do so at 720 System Strategies that I’d like to talk about that you can do after the first three steps if these people fall through the cracks…

But in terms of step number two, I think that lawyers should go for that close, should expect that some people will not move forward… Some people will move forward, but I think it’s a reasonable expectation that you should go for that close on that first call with the attorney. Do you have any thoughts on that?

Philip: First of all, you’re on the phone, right? Second of all, no one is ever going to say “yes,” if you don’t ask, right? You got to ask. And as long as you’re building value — going back to the car sale example — you’re building value by explaining to people how you’re solving their problem. You’re stopping the creditor calls, stopping the garnishment, stopping the foreclosure. Whatever it is. You’re going to show them how they could easily rebuild their life after bankruptcy. The freedom it’s going to provide. Absolutely ask for the sale. Believe me.

As you know, Bob, I mean you’ve talked to enough clients as well. These people, chances are, this is the first attorney they’ve ever talked to, right? And they don’t even want to come to the office, right? A percentage of them do but most of them don’t even want to come and talk to the office. They’re embarrassed to walk into a building that says “bankruptcy attorney,” right? So if they can find someone that they feel comfortable with and move on, that’s what they want. They just want to move on with their life. Not complicating it.

Bob: Yeah. So, in the lawyer’s one call close, these are the three things that I think that you need to cover…

So the first one is, the lawyer needs to diagnose the situation like a doctor. And like a patient comes in to the doctor and says, “You know, my arm hurts when I do this” and they say, “OK. Can you touch your toes? Can you touch your head?” So you need to act like a doctor and you need to focus on diagnosing the patient’s situation. Not selling bankruptcy, but understanding where it hurts.

And then the second thing that you need to do is… only within the context of the client’s situation do you describe the benefits of bankruptcy. So if someone doesn’t own a home and they have no assets, don’t talk about chapter 13s at all. Describe the benefits of bankruptcy for the client’s situation, where they have $30,000 in unsecured credit card debt. Only really focus on that, right?

Philip: Yeah. Absolutely. I mean that goes to the listening component, right?

Bob: Yeah.

Philip: I mean if you’re not listening and you’re throwing out comments that don’t relate to them, you’re going to lose it quick.

Bob: And then the last thing in terms of the closing itself, you really want to advance the sale, and that can be different depending on whether you offer a zero down bankruptcy or you’re offering… Let’s say they have to pay $1,000 upfront. And then it can be completely different.

So if you’re offering a zero down bankruptcy, maybe they need to do a credit check. But the first step is: do they want to move forward with a zero down, and get them to agree to a credit check as the next step. Maybe you need to get enough information to do a credit check or whatever that is. That’s you advancing the sale.

So, I’m not saying you necessarily have to walk away from the phone call with a signed retainer agreement. You actually can’t, because it’s a phone call. But I’m saying that you need to advance the sale to the next step. Does that make sense?

Philip: Yeah. Step by step. Going back to what to what you said in the very beginning, it’s the funnel. Step by step by step. Now, one point… Some attorneys — depending on the district — are allowed to send an e-signed signature to retain someone and get the process going. If it’s possible, boy, e-signs make it so easy, if it’s possible in your district.

Bob: Yeah. But I don’t think that even if an e-sign isn’t possible in your district… There’s nothing stopping you from doing like a verbal request saying, “Hey, we offer a zero down Chapter 7. It sounds like that’s something that you want to do. And the next step here would be a credit check. Do you want to move forward and see if you qualify for a zero down chapter 7.” They say “yes,” and then you’ve advanced the sale, right?

Philip: Yeah. Absolutely. You keep advancing the ball little by little without closing… They’re not feeling the pressure because you’re building value first. And that’s what you’re doing every step of the way. Excellent.

Bob: Yeah. And so, again, you made a great point that… Never mention a benefit that doesn’t apply to them.

Philip: Yeah.

Bob: So it’s really about listening to their situation and then interpreting bankruptcy. And so, as an example, you have a chapter 13 client that has $50,000 in credit card debt. During the five-year payment plan, they can pay zero percent interest on unsecured debt. That’s something that most people don’t understand, but if you can explain that to them, I think that’s a huge benefit. And that’s something that’s really exciting for that client, right?

Philip: You bring up a good point here, because for whatever reason, when it becomes routine for bankruptcy attorneys to talk about bankruptcy, they forget that people don’t realize the benefits of it. I mean, there are huge benefits to bankruptcy. I mean, monster benefits.

The debt consolidation, the debt negotiation movement, is exploding right now. And the reason why is because consumer revolving credit is at the same levels as it was from 2008. So the consolidation business is exploding and the irony is you have $40,000 in credit card debt. You’re negotiating at a 40 to 50 percent discount, right? Think about that. You’re going to spend $16-20,000 to negotiate that $40,000 debt. With bankruptcy, for $1,500, $2,000, you get all that wiped away.

And the best part, it’s easier to rebuild your life after a bankruptcy than it is other ways. It’s staggering. And the thing is as bankruptcy advocates, we need to point that out. We need to remind ourselves to point all these little things out to the client because they don’t know.

Bob: And one of the things that you’re telling me — not with the words that you’re saying, but with your excitement level — is that bankruptcy is a huge deal. It’s something that you’re enthusiastic about… You have to love bankruptcy to sell bankruptcy effectively. Like, you were just so enthusiastic about bankruptcy, and that’s awesome. I think it’s powerful.

Philip: Yeah.

Bob: If you’re a bankruptcy lawyer out there listening, don’t forget that bankruptcy is very exciting, and you should sound excited when you’re talking about it.

Philip: Well, I mean the thing is on this point — I think just to remind the people who’ve been in the business for years and years and years — you are giving someone a brand new life. I mean, it’s almost as if you’re giving them a new social security number, right? Which would be illegal.

Bob: Yeah.

Philip: So you can’t do that. But what you’re doing is you’re wiping the slate clean and you’re… And guess what? In 12 months, they’re going to have a 720 credit score potentially, if they rebuild their credit correctly. And they’re going to have their life back.

I’m convinced what people really want is they want their life back to normal. And I encourage our attorneys who use our program to say this, right? Specifically, the one thing with my firm — the reason why we’re different — is that I’m going to get your life back to normal faster than any other bankruptcy attorney out there. And because people… Keep in mind they have all this debt and they have the home or whatever… At one point, they had good credit. At one point, they were given loans. They know what it’s like.

And now they’re being hounded and they’re embarrassed about it and because they’re embarrassed they’re not talking to anyone about it and they feel completely isolated. So you’re the first person they’re talking to about it and frankly they’re a little embarrassed because they’re like “Oh my God, this is an attorney. He’s much more educated than I am.” But if you slow it down, listen to their story, show them the benefits… Let me tell you, you’re going to knock this down.

And the reality is, most bankruptcy attorneys don’t listen to podcasts like this. They don’t understand this type of stuff.

Bob: Yeah. I love what you’re saying with what you’re really telling people is that not only is it easy to listen to people, but you’re talking to people who are desperate to be listened to.

Philip: They’re emotionally starved. They don’t even talk to their wife about it because the husband is embarrassed of the debt. They don’t even talk to their family about it.

Bob: Yeah.

Philip: Absolutely. And this is why — frankly, Bob — we can help attorneys to grow their practice is because these small tweaks become huge differentiators in the marketplace. Huge. And most attorneys, most bankruptcy attorneys are just caught in their way. This is why you can take clients and double the size of their practice, triple the size of their practice, right? It’s frankly not as difficult as people think. It’s such small mini wins. It’s mini wins. Singles and doubles completely change the practice.

Bob: Yeah. And I think if you look at the bankruptcy product itself, especially against its competitors like debt consolidation… Like bankruptcy is really powerful and it’s really easy to sell. It’s a lot easier to sell than say a second mortgage as a financial product. You used to do mortgage lending back in the day. I mean, it’s a pretty easy product to sell, don’t you think?

Philip: Oh, yeah. Are you kidding me? The biggest problem is lead flow with bankruptcy, right? Which you solved the problem. You’ve solved that problem for the clients. If they just take these simple steps, like you call it the 3S’s, right? The three steps starting with the 3S call. You do that, it changes things in a hurry.

Bob: I think the other thing to remember is that we don’t have to get people to agree to everything in one fell swoop. So like if we’re talking about chapter 13, you might have a $5,000 payment in the plan. You don’t need them to buy the $5,000 payment today. You just need to get them to make a financial commitment to the next step. I mean, that’s what you’re really trying… You’re trying to get them to make the next financial commitment.

So even like in a chapter 7 where the total commitment might be say $1,500 with the $335 court filing fee and all that. But you can just do like, for example, Matt Herron who I interviewed in Pittsburgh, he has the minimum retainer strategy where he asks prospects to bring in $100 for their first meeting. So he’s asking people to make a small financial commitment. And it’s a lot easier to get people to agree to the small financial commitment. And then you’ve got to get them to do a layaway plan until they can afford to file. Do you have any thoughts on that, Philip?

Philip: I think it goes back to your first point with the sales funnel, right?

Bob: Yeah.

Philip: It’s “Hey, do you want a piece of cheese?” Right? Like the $100 — or whatever this is for the attorney — is a proxy. Here’s the thing. We’re not going to close 100 percent of the clients. I mean, we’re not going to. So what we want, we want these “proxies” — in air quotes — to disqualify certain clients. And you’re going to come up with — in your marketplace or while working with Bob or someone else — what those proxies are for you. And when you do, you’re going to be more effective because you’re not going to be wasting time on clients that don’t become… leads that don’t become clients. Or you’re going to cut out certain people that aren’t going to pay or whatever that looks like. I mean, nobody wants all these clients to get retained and not turned into actual discharges, right? So, yeah, I agree with you, Bob.

Bob: I like what you’re saying. I want to break it down for people because I think “proxy”… I understand the concept, but I really like the other way you put it, which is you really want to disqualify people as quickly as possible.

So let me put some numbers here. Let’s say that you have 10 leads, and you ask all 10 of them to bring $100 into their first meeting and three of them say they don’t even want to do that. So they don’t even want the free bite of cheese, or the $100 expensive version. Because you have to get them to pay $1,500 eventually.

Philip: Right, right, right.

Bob: But these people don’t even want to bring in $100 to the next meeting. So you’re saying those three people are disqualified. You might shift them to a automated sales funnel or something. But just focus then on the remaining seven people and try to close those and then you’re not wasting time on those three people. Am I interpreting what you’re saying right?

Philip: Absolutely. So the first thing, as you know, with… just to pivot on that a second, every lead that comes in should be followed up with in some capacity. Because the reason why they called is they have a need, right? There’s something there, right? So the easiest way to follow up with people is through e-mail like an automatic follow up system or something like that, right? So 100 percent of people go into that.

But if after stage one and after your first call and they go to stage two and they don’t sign up for stage three or they don’t come in for a meeting or they don’t pay the 100 dollars or something. Yeah, they’re going to start disqualifying themselves. And because of the deal flow or the lead flow in bankruptcy…

I mean, I had a client yesterday called me up. He’s from Pennsylvania and this is someone brand new who just found me on the Web. And he said, “Gosh.” I said, “How are you doing with your lead follow up?” He said, “Oh my assistant goes through every other week and calls the people who don’t either show up or didn’t set an appointment or whatever.” I said, “How many leads do you get a month?” He said, “About 50.” I said, “Of those 50, how many do you file?” He said, “About 10.” So we’re talking 40 leads/month x 6 months = 240 leads. Good luck having an assistant do that! There’s no way, right? So there are more effective ways.

My point is your point is: when people disqualify themselves, you put them into automated sequences. Things that are automated. They don’t take your staff time, they don’t take your time. And then you can focus on leads that are the hot ones. They set an appointment and they call and they say, “I can’t show up.” OK, great. Follow up on that lead. Or they call and they say, “Look, I’m getting paid on the 15th can I give you $500 then?” Absolutely! Follow up on that.

Bob: Yeah. For people out there who aren’t familiar with 720 System Strategies, the idea of setting up an e-mail autoresponder that has a bunch of e-mail scheduled and you send it to people automatically over the next months or whatever… That’s part of your system, right?

Philip: Yeah. My whole world was creating clients from e-mail. So I just developed a 12-month e-mail system — that we do everything for you, we set them up. You start with our e-mails, the attorney customizes it, and then it follows up automatically for you and it just produces amazing result. Without it sounding like I’m bragging, but it’s what we do and we can just go from there. So thank you.

Bob: And I would just add to that… When they do come back — if they come back six months later — just start them at the top with a 3S call and then set up the attorney… They really become an active lead, so you just put them in this ideal sales funnel, right?

Philip: Well, the best part about it is you go back — we tell our clients go back for the last 12 months for every lead you have — people that in your mind are dead. Like I’m talking dead leads that you would not waste your time calling, e-mail or texting and drop them all in. And instantly it turns into money. Every time.

Bob: Yeah. It’s awesome. There’s a guy, Dean Jackson, out there, he has a nine-word e-mail: “Are you still interested in filing bankruptcy” or something like that. “Are you still interested in buying a home in Miami” or whatever it is. That’s a very simple version of that.

Philip: Well, one of our top producing e-mails — I probably got this from Dean. He’s a great man and I was in a mastermind with him for years — and my seven-word e-mail was: “Would you like to come in next week?”

Bob: That’s good. I like it.

Philip: And, I mean, it’s amazing the response. Frankly, we had to move that farther out in the sequence because we learned… You know, we’re learning from our e-mails. That’s the advantage, I mean, we’ve sent out over a half million e-mails, so we can tell what’s working and what’s not. It was so effective that it was confusing to clients because they’d set up a meeting and they would get an e-mail that says “Do you want to come in next week?” And they’d respond and say, “I thought it was coming in tomorrow.” So we had to move it out, right?

Bob: Now, you don’t need to actually… I’m talking about pushing people towards making a financial commitment when possible. But I want to stress that you don’t actually have to collect… What you want to do is you want your prospect, at least, to understand that you’re not running a charity and you want them to commit to filing a bankruptcy. So if you don’t collect on the phone call, ideally, you’re set up with someone like LawPay and you can run someone’s debit card, because of course you don’t want to be charging a credit card for bankruptcy. But, if you can’t get someone to agree to charge their debit card, that’s OK. But your show rate is going to be way higher because if people say, “I will show up next week and pay $100,” their commitment is real high. And so your show rate is going to be much higher even than if you didn’t try to collect.

I had a client that tried this strategy and… I don’t know if it’s chance but he said he had had like a whole stretch of no-shows and what should he do. And I said, ask them for money and tell them to come in to either try to collect it… I told him to collect it right away because he had just signed up with LawPay at my advice, and he said that he couldn’t get people to sign up or charge their card on that one call close call. But they agreed to come in and he said that his appointment show rate zoomed up to 100 percent from like 50 percent. So it was really effective for him.

Philip: Hmmm. Wow. That’s a win.

Bob: Yeah. And the other big objection I hear is you don’t want to take people’s money without the client signing a contract, but the contract is really for the client’s protection. So… I mean, I don’t know what your state bar is going to say about this, but I don’t have a problem collecting $100 from a client, then you send them the e-sign or they sign the legal services agreement at the in-person meeting. I don’t have a problem with that. Do you see an obvious problem with that, Philip?

Philip: You know, nothing jumps out of me, but I’m not an attorney.

Bob: Sure, sure.

Philip: Yeah.

Bob: So, a standard, “check your state bar.” But I don’t have a problem at least asking people to bring $100 into their first meeting. I don’t think any state bar would have a problem with that, either.

OK. So the last step — the step number three — is the… What I call the in-person kick-off meeting. So this has to be in person. But, at this point the client has said that they want to be a client at least. They may not have signed something or paid you, but they want to be a client.

So at the in-person kick-off meeting, you’ll get a chance to meet the client or maybe someone in your office will meet with the client. So if the client has already agreed to everything then they can come in and meet with the paralegal or whoever you have collecting their documents — and this doesn’t necessarily have to be you at that point. But if it is you, and you realize at that point that that client is not someone that you want, you can fire them by refunding their money.

So you don’t want to wait until you meet someone until you try to collect money from them is my point. And I would say that the goal of the kick-off meeting is just to kick-off the bankruptcy. So you want to make sure that the next step is finalized, whatever that next step is.

Philip: Yeah. I mean, as the big problem that every bankruptcy attorney faces is getting paperwork from the client, right? You know when they come in, have them bring certain things. You know they’re going to forget certain things. Have them bring more.

Bob: And I was… I’m skipping a little ahead here from my outline but one of the big mistakes that I see people make is that they ask prospects to fill out long boring forms. And particularly for people that have a psychological… They don’t want to confront their biggest nightmare, which is that they’re financially distressed. That’s just going to make them never call you again.

So what I like to do is ask people to bring in documents and then you fill out the forms for them. And if they don’t have the documents, then you can use something like CIN Legal Data Services to get data, and you can use that as the basis for your first kick-off meeting.

Philip: Yeah.

Bob: And then they can always come back later and bring their six months of pay stubs and all that stuff. If someone has signed your legal service agreement, made at least a $100 payment, come in and met with you to agree that they want to move forward. And you’ve talked to them about their issues using CIN Legal Data Services — because they didn’t bring any documents — that’s a client. You’re 90 percent on your way towards finishing their client. At that point, it’s just paperwork, right?

Philip: From an emotional connection, they’re not going anywhere at this point, right? So, I agree with you.

Going back to your point about filling out the paperwork, filling out bankruptcy paperwork for this type of lead is probably up there with cleaning out a garage after 10 years. It’s so daunting, right? And so exhausting that the last thing they want to do is fill this out. And what they’ll do — just like they’ve done for 10 years with their garage — is push it off to the next weekend: “Next week I’m going to clean my garage. Next week I’m going to clean my garage.” And this is what we don’t want to happen with the lead.

Because with the bankruptcy lead, if you do not build an emotional connection with them, if you do not take them down this simple step, one step at a time, right? This funnel, like you’re talking about… What ends up happening is they forget about you. And when they forget about you, when they think about the bankruptcy in six months, they just go to Google and type in “bankruptcy attorney near me.” And guess what? You paid $40 for that click, $50 for that click. And you just lost it, right? More than that probably. But anyways, that’s my point. My point is: it doesn’t make sense. Build the emotional connection, take them down the sale funnel, step by step by step and you’re winning. And this is how you can do easy differentiation in your marketplace and take business off the table. Yeah, I agree.

Bob: Just to build on that, I do think that one thing you want to do is you want to avoid setting up a situation where it’s easy for the client to ghost you and never speak to you again.

Philip: Yeah. Oh, yeah.

And I also want to remind people that in this in-person kickoff meeting, you don’t need to know exactly what the deal is. So you can have them sign a Legal Services Agreement that says, “Look, if you reaffirm your car, you have to pay 200 extra dollars.” It’s OK if they don’t decide whether they reaffirm their car in that first meeting. They can go home and think about it. But they’ve signed the legal services agreement that sets the price and maybe you have a little menu of things that… if the amount of unsecured debt is more than $20,000, you have to pay a certain amount.

But you don’t need to actually determine what the amount of unsecured debt is until you actually file. What I’m saying is that you want to push the sales process forward and that can be very different than pushing the filing process forward. Does that make sense?

Philip: Absolutely. Well, I mean, the thing is once you take this simple steps… If someone’s not ready — every bankruptcy attorney — all of us, you Bob, myself, every bankruptcy attorney listening — we want to file file file file file. I get it. Right?

Bob: Yeah.

Philip: But as your point is, the client may not be emotionally ready for that. So what do we do? And this connects to what you said earlier about listening. They’re feeling heard. We’re treating them with dignity. How do we take them down the road if they’re not ready decide on this or they forget this paperwork? OK, great. We’ll take it one step further. But they’re feeling connected and they’re not going anywhere. That’s the point. You want them to remember you. And this is how you find more cases and increase your profitability.

Bob: So you want people, at the very least, to feel that they have a lawyer and at the very best you want them to have signed your legal service agreement and definitely become a client. So there’s a whole spectrum of where clients can end up, but that’s where you want to push them forward in the sales process rather than the filing process.

Philip: Yeah. I agree. Totally agree.

Bob: Now because you may be doing like a $100 mini retainer strategy, there’s a couple tips that I have here. This podcast episode isn’t about any one of these funnel steps but it’s just a very quick tip.

If you’re going to use a minimum retainer strategy, don’t agree to write letters to the creditors but do agree to respond to phone calls and you can give them a special telephone number that they can give to creditors to get them to stop calling you. And that number can be different than your main number and it can actually just be a voicemail that says, “Send an e-mail to me at this.” You do need to give a telephone number but you can “prize” that telephone number. You can say, “Look, after you’ve retained me, after you sign the Legal Services Agreement, after you pass a credit check, I will give you this special telephone number that’s different than my regular number and you can give that to the creditors and tell them stop calling me, call my attorney.”

Philip: Absolutely.

Bob: Have you had anyone do that where they use a different telephone number?

Philip: You know I’ve never gotten that detailed. But what I can tell you is that what I’ve seen my most successful attorneys do is when they say, “Hey, we’re going take your calls,” it’s connecting it to a payment plan, right? Assuming they’re not bifurcating. Assuming they’re not doing no-money-down, it’s subject to the following: “You’re going to get your credit counseling taken care of within the next week. You have to get on a payment plan.” So it connects the dots, right?

Bob: Yep.

Philip: A big mistake I’ve seen over and over when people miss payments when they’re on a payment plan — a pre-filing payment plan — a big mistake is, when the client misses a payment, don’t follow up with them immediately. I mean, every day that goes by after someone misses their payments, the client starts losing interest and they start feeling embarrassed because they missed their payment.

Bob: Yep.

Philip: Good luck trying to collect on that a month later!

Bob: Sure.

Philip: If it declines this morning, call them up and say “Hey, your payment declined, when are you going to get a payment in?” Keep it engaged. And there are services that will follow up with the payments for you, if you need it.

Bob: So, if you do have a bankruptcy that isn’t a zero down bankruptcy, yeah, the next step, the ideal conclusion to an in-person kickoff meeting is that you have the client, they’ve signed your legal services agreement, they’ve made the minimum retainer payment — the first payment — and they’ve set up a payment plan, an automated way of making payments to you, and LawPay is just one of those services.

Philip: Yeah, excellent.

Bob: But, again, we want to be charging debit cards and not credit cards, so don’t forget that.

Philip: Yeah.

Bob: OK. So, I want to talk about some of the major mistakes that I see… Philip, do you have any thoughts on this three-step sales process?

Philip: Well, my thought is really clear. When I saw your e-mail laying this out, I thought to myself, “Gosh, no wonder this guy can transform bankruptcy attorneys’ profitability,” because it was so detailed. I mean you should really include it as a download for people to download off your website because it’s very thorough. So I appreciate the thought… The reason why these calls are so good is it because of the thought that you put into it. So I appreciate that.

Bob: Well, you do have six years of talking to bankruptcy attorneys and…

Philip: Yeah. It’s teamwork.

Bob: So, the five major mistakes I want to go over… the first one we’ve already kind of gone over, which is that you don’t want to ask prospects to fill out long boring forms.

The second major mistake that I see bankruptcy lawyers make is they hate sales and they feel like asking for the sale is too sales-y and they’re embarrassed to be doing it and they just have the wrong attitude towards sales. And so… we talked about this earlier but I just think — just to isolate this particular issue — I really think that bankruptcy lawyers need to really focus on diagnosing their prospect’s problems on the call like a doctor.

And I would say to anyone that is embarrassed to ask for the sale. Think about it as if you’re a doctor and you have in your pocket a pill that will cure their disease, whatever that disease is. I think that you have an ethical obligation to sell that pill to that person to cure their disease, as long as that pill has a reasonable price. Because you can cure their disease 100 percent of the time with this pill.

So if you really have a solution that can cure your client’s problems, or your prospective clients’ problems… I think it’s more than, like, just not being embarrassed to be sales-y. I think it’s your ethical obligation to go out there and sell a bankruptcy so that some debt consolidator idiot who is completely unethical and has a less good solution where you come up with $17,000 upfront, and you have tax problems, and all kinds of things… Bankruptcy is a beautiful solution that can really solve people’s problems and I think it’s your ethical obligation to present that solution to people, make sure that they understand it, and try to sell it to them.

Philip: Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. And I think it goes back to what we talked about — they lose the monotony, they’re in the routine of it.

Bob: Yeah.

Philip: And they forget how great bankruptcy is and what it truly does for the client. I mean we are giving people new lives.

Bob: Yeah. And I think that one of the things that you just talked about is that people can get stuck in a rut and feel the routine, because you are talking about bankruptcy all day. But if you’re talking to the customer or the client, you’re talking to that client and you’re listening to their problems… Everyone has different problems. The solution to everyone’s problems might be a bankruptcy.

Philip: Right.

Bob: But everyone has different problems. And so I think you can find like a lot of really… You can break up the monotony of these conversations if you focus on active listening to the client and then explaining how bankruptcy can solve their problems, rather than just kind of go into your “Here are the seven things that bankruptcy can do for you and I’m just going to read this no matter whether you have a house, I’m going to tell you that bankruptcy can save your house.” That’s boring and it’s going to sound monotonous because it is monotonous.

Philip: Yeah. They pick up on it, and this is why you’re not converting.

Bob: Yeah. Number three is something that you’ve alluded to several times, but you can’t let folks fall through the cracks.

Philip: Oh yeah, no way.

Bob: So, if the ball’s in your prospects’ court and they don’t hit the ball back at you, whether they miss a payment in their payment plan, or they’re supposed to sign the legal services agreement and they just don’t. You need to take whatever step… You or someone in your office needs to take whatever step… Needs to be tracking all the steps. You need to make sure that the prospect stays alive. And you can do tickler files in your CRM. You can tack index cards up on a bulletin board and move people from left to right. You can set dates in your calendar. There’s a million things that you can do but you can’t let folks fall through the cracks.

Philip: And I would just point out one thing — and this is easy for you and I to say because we’re around technology all the time — lean as much as you can into technology because it stops the breakage. You need to take things away from staff. So free them up on things that actually they need to do like file cases and prepare petitions and create schedules, right? There’s no need to…

Lean as much everything else into technology and you’re going to win.

Bob: Yeah and you could just imagine like we are talking about how you want to make sure that you follow up immediately with people who’ve missed a payment.

Philip: Yeah.

Bob: So you could just imagine just telling people every day, Mr. Paralegal or secretary, receptionist, whoever it is, “everyday go to LawPay, click over to here, look for the declined payments, and then once you have them, go to the CRM, look at their phone number and give them a call.

Philip: Right, absolutely.

Bob: So this is just certain steps you can take to make sure that these folks aren’t falling through the cracks, whether it’s a declined payment or “hey, it’s been three days since we sent them the legal services agreement. They haven’t signed it. Let me follow up with it.”

Philip: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Bob: So the next one is just not listening to your phone calls. Since I generate leads, I do record calls. For two-party consent states, I’ll have a little robot voice that says, “This call may be recorded.” But listening to phone calls and just listening to yourself and listening to your staff, especially when you lose a sale… If you don’t listen to the call, you’re not going to realize how to get better at what you do.

Philip: Oh, absolutely. I mean, this is how you grow. And I will tell you, though, going back to capability. I’m big into Gödel Law and Gödel’s Law is that you can’t understand a system that you’re in. This is why what we do, we’re at an advantage. Because the attorney is so deep into the quagmire of their office, we can come in and see things just a little different, right? And that’s what Gödel’s Law is, that’s why consultants are so effective. They can come in and give you insight.

And if the consultant — or someone like you with AdWords or me with follow up, that type of thing — we can do things that move the needle so fast and it’s not a cost. I like to think of ourselves on the left side of the balance sheet. We’re revenue drivers, right? I mean we’re not expenses and so that’s the only thing I’d point out is… Yeah, they can listen to their calls, but they may not understand what a good call is just because they haven’t listened to enough of them.

Bob: Yeah. Well I would say that Gödel’s Law. It’s a good one. I wasn’t familiar with that. There was a saying from a book called Work the System by Sam Carpenter that I really like. It’s similar to the Michael Gerber E-Myth book. Have you read that one?

Philip: Of course. Yeah.

Bob: So, in Work the System, he says that you want to take a mindset of like you’re not in the system but you’re up and you pull back. Something like that. [The actual quote is that you want to have an”outside and slightly elevated perspective.”] So I do think that Gödel’s Law is true, but if you can pull yourself out of the system, if you have the right mindset, you should be able to pull back and learn something by listening to your calls.

Philip: Well, I mean, and if someone can do it. I mean, I’ve had enough calls with the attorneys where attorneys have told me that they’re whatever., fill-in-the-blank… Their lead follow up, their review generation, their intake meeting is effective, right? And it’s effective in their mind at this moment. And I’m not being derogatory. People can look in my business and do the same exact thing, right? When you’re in a system, you can’t understand it, right? So that’s all.

I think of that a lot. I think of that with my personal life, my family, my kids. I’m always looking for outside input so I can improve.

Bob: Yeah. That’s why we have friends to talk about their problems, personal or professional.

Philip: Yeah, exactly.

Bob: It’s often so easy when it’s not your problem.

Philip: Yeah.

Bob: So the last thought is just that you want to avoid talking too much about bankruptcy and you want to really focus on talking about your clients. And we picked up on this earlier, but you don’t want to just jump into your bankruptcy spiel. You want to listen to your prospect’s problems and you have to genuinely care. And if you don’t care, they’ll know. Any thoughts?

Philip: Yeah. Well, they feel it. I mean, absolutely. It’s not about the words. This is an emotional… We’ve said this. I mean, this is an emotional situation. They’re going to feel it all day long. And guess what they’re going to do. They’re going to call you. They’re going to Google, type “bankruptcy attorney near me.” They click the ad. That click cost you $25/$30, right? They call you. That live transfer, all in, is $55/$65. Whatever it is, right?

And if they don’t feel it on the phone, guess what they do. They hit “back” on their browser and click the next one.

Bob: Yeah, right?

Philip: I mean, let me tell you, it’s like a coup for Google, right? I mean, it’s like unbelievable, are you kidding me? That click was that much money. And this is why it’s so easy to differentiate yourself in the market if you slow down. It’s not about the volume, it’s about the impact.

Bob: It goes back to what you were saying earlier about “be curious.” You really have to find people interesting.

Philip: Yeah.

Bob: And that’s what it comes down to. For me, I’ll say that everything that I learned on this really started because I went to a used bookstore in 7th grade and I found this book, the Dale Carnegie How to Win Friends and Influence People book.

Philip: Absolutely.

Bob: And believe it or not, I wasn’t always this suave cool guy I am today. But reading that book really helped me understand how… that you had to find other people interesting and then you would build a relationship based off of that.

And in that book they get this great example of how Dale was at this dinner party and he met someone who was very much into butterfly collecting. And so he spends a whole dinner party just asking this guy questions: “Oh really, I thought the monarch butterfly went to Mexico,” or whatever. “You’re saying that they are in Canada, that’s crazy.” And the guy is like, “I know!” And then he goes and talks all about butterflies. And Dale makes a point to mention that he knows nothing about butterflies. He’s never met the guy in his life.

And at the end of the dinner party the guy turns to him and he says, “Dale, you’re the most interesting conversationalist I have ever met in my life.”

Philip: I love that story.

Bob: And Dale like… he thought that was funny because that guy was talking for 95 percent of the conversation about his favorite topic, which is himself and his collections and collecting butterflies and all that stuff. And that’s exactly what this approach does, where you’re talking to people about themselves… About what they care about most, which is themselves.

Philip: Yeah. Absolutely. I mean you’ve laid it out well, Bob. Any bankruptcy attorney listening to this can take this information and instantly increase their retain rate and increase their profitability. I mean you’ve done… mission accomplished on this podcast.

Bob: OK. Well, I would say that if someone out there wants to learn more about how to genuinely listen to people and this active listening stuff, don’t do a sales class on like the Sandler System. I’m sure that’s great and all. But what I would do is I would read How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie and just learn that all you have to do is just be like, “Oh and then what happens? Oh I thought that… When did you rack up all the credit card debt? Oh, really. Well, you said you had 20k in medical debt. Was that before or after? Oh, wow. And your sister-in-law did what? That’s crazy!”

And just care about people and listen to them. But you can learn how to do that from Dale Carnegie and that’s certainly where I learned, because I wasn’t born knowing this stuff either.

Philip: Yeah. Well, I mean, there’s little techniques because most people don’t do this. And let’s just acknowledge you that are listening. Very few bankruptcy attorneys search out podcasts on bankruptcy marketing. And you and I know that, right. But they don’t know that. So they’re doing something right the fact that they’re listening and they’re in action.

Bob: I just think a lot of people out there, when they think about sales, they think about used car salesman. And I’d be a terrible used car salesman, I certainly don’t fit that template. But I’m good at sales because I listen to people and their problems and I talk to them about their problems. And they feel that I care about them because I do.

And that’s a very easy skill to learn. It’s not as hard as learning the 100 “closes” that you learn as a used car salesman. So I want to encourage people that taking a genuine interest in people and listening to their problems is as easy as it sounds. It really is all that there is to it.

Philip: Well, that’s great. Thanks for having me on.

Bob: Yeah. Well as always, thank you for joining us and I haven’t figured out what our next topic is but I’d love to have you back on.

Philip: Well, we’ll figure it out. Unpack it step-by-step. Thanks, Bob.

Bob: All right. Thanks, man. Bye bye.