Every professional knows that there are stages in every conversion. The problem is that most of the time, they skip two out of the five. In this episode, Alex Mandossian uses the story of the old woman and the pigeon to illustrate the concept of the stages of conversion being a process, not a singular event. He used the analogy of an ice block’s ultimate transition to steam to emphasize the importance of the conversion process. Alex then explains why the five stages of the conversion system are critical to the growth of your business, using the second part of the pigeon story as an example. Don’t miss this powerful episode that can truly transform the way you do business.
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Five Stages Of Conversion
You’re going to learn and discover in this episode, number one, why most professionals overlook two of the five stages of conversion. Imagine, 2/5 of the five stages most people overlook and some of these people are much smarter than I am.
Number two, you’ll discover why the five stages of conversion is a process. They are not five separate events. Three, you’ll learn why the five stages of conversion is a critical system for the growth of your business. You’re going to love this episode.
The Pigeon Story Recap
Do you remember the pigeon story? If you go back to episode one, you’ll know that my origin story happened in the summer of 1989. It’s a good example of the five stages of conversion. I’ve taught this on six different continents to over eight different languages other than English. It does translate in every culture to practically any language of students that I’ve had over the years. I’ve been doing this for a long time, over 25 years.
Here’s the story. In 1989, I lost $242,000 from a business called Polar Frozen Yogurt and Bakery. It was in Long Beach, California, which is Southern California. The reason I lost all that money is I didn’t know what I was doing. I got all the money that was left to me by my grandparents, Esther and Alex. I was given a bunch of money from my parents because I conned them. I influenced them unethically to believe in me and know that I could run this business.
The reason I did that is that I knew I was unhireable. Are you unhireable? Do you work for someone? Are you unhireable and you’re an entrepreneur? This episode will make life a lot easier because you’ll have situational awareness about what stage your prospects, candidates or leads, are in because conversion is a process, it’s not an event.
Here’s what happened. After I got kicked out of my apartment in Irvine, California, I headed home. Enroute to Pasadena, California, the home I was going to be living with my mother, Carol. Through that sense of guilt and shame, which are worthless emotions. I know that now but when I was in it, that’s all I could feel. I would have relatives and friends call me up and say, “How could you do this to your grandparents, Alex? How could you do this to your parents? How could you be so irresponsible?”
I run from a lineage of Armenian descent, which is sometimes fueled by guilt and shame. It’s a cultural thing, I suppose. I wasn’t feeling good and my self-esteem and self-worth weren’t as high as it could have been. I parked my red Volkswagen Jetta next to MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, California, near downtown. I didn’t want to go back to Pasadena and live there but I needed to eat. I needed a roof over my head. I had zero money, not enough money for gas even.
I decided to sit on a park bench and think about what I am going to do with my life. How am I going to get out of this mess? Even worse, my mother’s house was going into foreclosure. She put it up as equity for a loan with the Small Business Administration because it was working capital for the business that failed. Can you imagine? I don’t know if you’ve ever been rock bottom but this was the bedrock of my entrepreneurial life.
It was the first business I ever attempted after graduating from the University of California at Irvine. That was a university I attended in 1987 two years before, with two graduate degrees. One was in psychology and the other one was in economics. Neither one of them fared to assist me through the process of entrepreneurship. I had to go to the University of HK. That’s not Hong Kong, that’s hard knocks.
[bctt tweet=”Conversion is a process. It’s not an event. ” username=”AlexMandossian”]
If you’ve ever been through that, you know exactly what I’m talking about. No friends, because failure has zero parents and success has 10,000 parents. People go after the wildly successful and they approach them but those who fail, they ignore them. I was being ignored because I had lost and I made a bad decision. Worse, I didn’t know what I was doing.
The reason I’m doing this podcast is because I made a personal promise to me and my Higher Power that if I ever get out of this mess, I’m going to give back as a public service, which means no cost. This podcast has no cost. I’m going to do that so other people don’t have to go through it. You have my big why of why I’m here. If you go to other episodes, you’ll see that even though the content is of no cost to you, there are other ways we could do business.
There are ways I monetize it. I don’t have any sponsors and don’t intend to have any. I do this as a service because I have a good memory of what I went through. Back to the story. There I am on the park bench and I’m watching an elderly woman. She was a little heavyset. She looked like maybe she was in her 60s or early 70s.
She went up to a birdseed machine, a little machine that looked like a gumball machine but it had bird seeds in it because there are pigeons all over MacArthur Park. She put a nickel in there, which shows you how long ago it was. She turned that little handle and these bird seeds came flying out of the little metal hatch. She undid the hatch and they came into the palm of her hand. Now, she had the lead magnets, ethical bribe, bait, or whatever you want to call it.
She wanted the pigeons to feed on the palm of her hand or, at least, that’s what it looked like. She took the bird seeds in the palm of her hand and she opened up her palm. The pigeons were on the ground and they were walking around. She slowly walked towards them. She didn’t want to surprise them so they’d fly away.
These pigeons, in the form of a prospect, were ice cold. They were like blocks of ice. They didn’t know her, like her or trust her. They had no idea she existed. They needed to know that she had something they wanted. The first thing she did is expose the birdseed in the palm of her hand. As she walked towards them, they walked away.
She turned around, still exposing the birdseed in the palm of her hand, and walked away from them. It’s like a dance or courting them. She’s not selling them but seducing them, pulling them into her lair, which happened to be the palm of her hand. What happened? I noticed the way the pigeons bob back and forth with their heads. They say that pigeons are stupid but these pigeons were smart. They were hungry. They were walking towards her.
She turns about-face and walks towards the pigeons. They walk away from her. She turns around again and she walks away from them. They walk toward her. She turns around and walks towards them. They walk away. Something magical is happening during this process. It’s taking about ten minutes. The distance between that elderly woman and the pigeons got less and less. From ice-cold in the beginning to cold like they were cold water. A block of ice is different from liquid water.
They became warm as that distance got closer. Then, they were red hot when she got down on one knee. When they’re close enough, she exposed her hand. Because she was a little bit on the heavy side, it looked uncomfortable but she wanted them to feed on the palm of her hand. I never spoke to her, but that’s what it looked like. Now, they were hot prospects.
One adolescent pigeon felt brave that one afternoon and came up to peck at her finger and palm and he got some birdseed. That was the first pigeon, the leader. The other pigeons saw that. After the leader went, then that first pigeon had some first followers. If you read the previous episode, I talked all about first followers. There’s a YouTube video about the dancing guy and the power of first followers versus leadership. Leadership is overrated many times.
That first pigeon was the leader but the first followers are what got all the other pigeons to come in and feed on the palm of her hand. She had to go and put another nickel in the machine. They were landing on her shoulder. She was feeding them one by one. She was putting the bird seeds on her shoulders. They were pecking at the shoulders. She was like the pigeon lady all within about half an hour. They were pooping on her head. I guess that’s called good luck in some cultures.
It was a process. It was not an event. It took time. In this case, about 30 minutes. I’ve just described to you the five stages of conversion. The key is to identify what stage you’re in. If you overlook identifying what stage you’re in with a prospect, candidate or lead.
Five Stages Of Conversion
What she did is she went through each stage. In the first stage, she knows that they’re like ice. She walked towards them and she showed the birdseed. She had to have them take notice. If she ran at them, they probably would have flown away.
The ice portion, which is stage one, is when she’s walking towards them for the first time exposing the birdseed in the palm of her hand. They went from an ice block to more fluid. Coldwater is like Titanic cold. You can die if you’re in there for more than five minutes if it’s 5 or 6 degrees Celsius or 35 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. I’ve been in cold water. It’s fluid and different. It changes consistency but it’s still ice.
Stage two is cold water. That’s when she walked away for the first time but still exposed the birdseed. When she turned around, the pigeons didn’t fly away. They walked a little slower and got closer to her or she got closer to them. That was stage three. That was warm water.
Warm water is like the Mediterranean or the Gulf of Mexico, somewhere around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s more comfortable. You can sit there all day. She walked toward them and they got closer. When she walked away when they were super close, she could have gone for it but you can’t go from warm to steam.
She went from warm to hot, probably without even knowing it. She probably knew it intuitively. She walked away again. She didn’t get down on one knee yet because she didn’t have the level of marketing intimacy with these pigeons. Remember, we’re not dealing with humans. They’re pigeons but they’re still stages of conversion. I hope you’re enjoying this. As she walked away and they got closer, she turned around, got down on one knee.
[bctt tweet=”Wildly successful business owners focus on progress, not performance. ” username=”AlexMandossian”]
Stage five was activated when that first pigeon plucked out the seed, or probably several, and then all the first followers came. Again, it’s a process. It’s not an event. Conversion is about a movement to a process. It’s a customer, client, patient, member or student path that you take them through. Stage one is a block of ice. Stage two is cold water. Stage three is warm water.
Stage four is hot water. Hot as in a hot tub. I could stand maybe 104 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit in a hot tub. You can stay there, but not long. You don’t want prospects that stay hot for a long time. It’s uncomfortable. You want to get them to the next level, which is steam. If you’re at 50 degrees Centigrade or 105 degrees Fahrenheit, that’s super hot. It takes another 107 or 108 degrees Fahrenheit or 50 degrees Centigrade to get to steam, which is the first sale.
That’s what steam is. Steam can propel a rocketship or a locomotive. Hot water can’t do much. It’s the steam that makes the difference. That’s the fifth stage. Most people in marketing are much smarter, wealthier, and more successful than I am. Many of them are my students. They teach three stages. They teach cold, warm and hot. The problem with that is that is water.
Before you have water, you have ice, which is solid. After you have hot water, you have steam, which is a vapor and disintegrates into the air. Steam can go away if you don’t keep it up with your backend products. When the steam goes away, the power goes away. It’s a great analogy. What most people overlook even more is identifying what stage of conversion their prospects are in.
Imagine if you asked for small commitments, not for the sale, but to progress to the next stage. Movement is life. Movement is marketing. If you go from ice to cold water to warm to hot to steam. You may be able to jump one of those stages. If you get a referral, sometimes they come in warm and hot. That’s why referral marketing is so strong but rarely do they come in as steam. Rarely are they ready to buy. They have objections, which is when the selling begins.
That’s not the end of the world. That’s the beginning of a whole new era because they’re showing their engagement with you. That’s why I’ve done this podcast. You don’t get rejected if you’re prepared for the objections. You obliterate them and prepare for them in advance. Imagine if you had some prospects. Let’s say they’re premium candidates for your premium offers. You have fewer of them.
Let’s say there are maybe twenty in this magical bin that you’re just envisioning. You’ll have some that are cold, some that are warm, and some that are hot. You want to get them over to steam. If you have five columns, you keep moving the Post-It notes from left to right. On the far left is ice and on the far right is steam. That’s what you want to do. You want to get those Post-It notes, peel them off, and put them to the next stage. You’re making that call. They don’t think of themselves where they’re at.
When you make that call, then you know how to speak to them. You can’t speak to a hot prospect the same way you would speak to a cold one because it would be insulting. You can’t speak to a cold prospect the way you would speak to a hot one because they would be offended. You’re raising the intimacy level or reducing it after you’ve established it. Hot to cold, you’re reducing it. Cold to hot, you’re advancing it. You may be overdoing it if you’re treating them like a hot prospect and they’re a cold one.
It gives you situational awareness. Marketing and conversion are about movement. Movement is life. “Nothing happens until something moves,” said Albert Einstein. Ice has a little movement. It’s solid. Once it becomes cold water, there’s a lot of movement. Its fluid. Warm water is comfortable. You can sit in it. Hot water, you can sit in it but not too long. You shouldn’t stay too long in any of the stages until you get steam. The goal here is to pour it on with your backend offers.
If you map out these points with physical columns that you’ve put up on a wall or a whiteboard, and you have these Post-It notes that you move them over, that’s a cool way to do it. If you dialogue with someone as a hot prospect and they’re actually a cold prospect, they’re going to feel unsafe. The five stages of conversion when you have situational awareness, like a jet fighter pilot, is the most critical growth strategy you can ever add to your business. Rarely do I hear anyone talking about it in this way.
Alexism: Progress Not Performance
The Alexism for this episode is this. Wildly successful business owners focus on progress, not performance. You don’t have to be a great performer. You can have so-so performance but if you focus on progress, then you have five stages to go through. Sometimes, there are three, rarely is there two. You go through these stages and over time, you warm them up until they turn into steam. In business and your personal life, if you’re not growing, you’re dying.
Like a jet fighter pilot’s life depends on the wingman or woman to identify their situational awareness. Even the Blue Angels who fly and do these stunts are eighteen inches away from each other against their wings. That’s incredible. They’re just that far apart and they’re going hundreds of miles an hour. The most critical activity you can do is identify which stage you’re at with your prospects. That way, you know the level of marketing intimacy to utilize in your conversation.
Here’s a quick review of the insights you and I rediscovered in this episode. I want you to apply them and execute them. Otherwise, they’re not useful. Those who know and don’t do still don’t know. It’s another Alexism. You learned why most professionals overlook two of the five stages of conversion. They don’t talk about ice and they don’t think about steam. They just think about cold, warm and hot. It’s much more detailed than that.
Number two, you discovered the five stages of conversion as a process. They’re not five separate events and they’re certainly not one event. You hit those touchpoints and the goal is to get them to steam. The goal is movement. You also learned why the five stages of conversion are critical to your business growth.
Here’s the backstory. There was a young boy. It was summertime at MacArthur Park. He observed the result that the elderly woman was getting with the pigeons. He wanted pigeons to feed on his hand. He asked his mother for a nickel. He got the birdseed and he ran at the pigeons. What did they do? He was treating them as if they were hot prospects but they were ice. He didn’t even show the birdseed. He had it cupped in the palm of his hand without even showing it.
They were threatened and they flew away. He was frustrated and threw all the birdseed at them. He didn’t even notice, when he turned around that they came back down on the pavement and started pecking at them and eating the birdseed for free. They got what they wanted and the young boy didn’t. Hopefully, he turned into one of the great salespeople. I never knew what happened to him but I remember him because he is how many of my students treat their prospects.
They go too fast. Because they know the result that’s possible, they assume the prospect is hot when they’re ice cold. Remember, the insights you learned will only work for you if you work them too. Please make sure you execute what you’ve learned. I do. This is for you. I believe that if you do, your future, in business and life, will be bigger. It will be brighter and you’ll create it on your terms.
[bctt tweet=”In business and your personal life, if you’re not growing, you’re dying. ” username=”AlexMandossian”]
Speaking of reviews, if you’ve already given me a review on iTunes, then write down your biggest takeaway or your a-ha moment from this episode. If you have two, write down two on an index card. If you haven’t given me a review on iTunes, then this is your time. This is your turn to please give back so that this episode and the podcast go higher in the ranks so that other people can enjoy it as a public service.
Go to AllSellingAside.com/iTunes. Write your biggest a-ha moment inside the review section because iTunes asks you for a review, but not an a-ha moment. I don’t want a review of the entire podcast because that’s like cold water off a duck’s back. Anyone can do it. It doesn’t inspire and influence others to read it. Be specific. Don’t review the podcast. Just give me an a-ha moment for this episode in the review section. You only get one review so make it count. It will mean a lot to me.
Once you do that, iTunes will ask you to rate the episode. I do hope I’ve earned five stars from you. Rate and review this episode. Will you do that for me? It will take three minutes out of your day but what you declare could provide for you and the others reading your review a valuable learning lesson.
I have one final gift in honor of this episode. It’s complimentary access to the physical version of Alexisms: Useful Life Lessons From a Recovering Serial Entrepreneur. All you’ve got to do is visit MarketingOnline.com/book. You will also get access to the world’s bestselling strategy of utilizing and monetizing your book.
Even if you don’t think of yourself as an author, it’s simple to write an isms book in your name. That strategy is called a Virtual Book Tour Strategy. I invented it in 2002. I’ve done over 75 of them, and it works. You don’t have to pay the $497 tuition for that eCourse that everyone else has to pay.
That does it for this episode. This is dedicated not only to you but to making you an ethical influencer so you can bring more certainty into your business and personal life. Do whatever it takes to join me in the next episode because our topic is my Wealth Creation Formula. I know that sounds cliché but this one is special.
I encourage you to invite a friend, colleague, or study buddy so that you study together. Invite them to this episode or any of the other episodes. Scroll down and take a look at all the topics. I can’t wait to connect with you next time for the Wealth Creation Formula. It will be a super fun and experiential episode. I do hope you join us with your study buddy. I can’t wait to visit with you then.
Links and Resources:
- Episode one – Confessions of a Serial Entrepreneur
- Previous episode – How to Create a Movement
- Virtual Book Tour Strategy
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