How George McGehrin gets his clients to pay HIM to market to them

Oct 1, 2020
Author: Sarah Hicks

OOPS

George McGehrin explains, on a recent episode of the Predictable Revenue Podcast, that the source of 25% of The McGehrin Group’s revenue was developed by mistake. The McGehrin Group is a firm that specializes in placing high-level executives in major corporations throughout the United States. For decades, executive placement candidates asked George for his help with their resumes, and he always turned them down. The McGehrin Group doesn’t do resumes, George thought, and he held fast to that belief for 20 years. It wasn’t until he watched Yes Man, a comedy starring Jim Carey, that he considered changing his mind. In the film, Jim Carey says “yes” to absolutely everything for a day, and George thought he’d give that a shot. So when the next candidate came through, asking for help on their resume, George went against 20 years focusing strictly on recruiting, and said “yes”.

George helped this CEO with their executive branding and charged some lowball amount for it. And that CEO was placed at a company with this new resume. This new company happened to be coming to the end of their retainer with another executive placement firm, and George’s CEO friend offered The McGehrin Group the contract. Soon, this CEO introduced George to a buddy with the same problem, and the cycle continued. 

Now 25% of The McGehrin Group’s revenue on the recruitment side comes from this one relationship he made on the executive branding side. George works with someone one on one, and sooner or later The McGehrin Group places them or is hired by them at their new company. So by hiring The McGehrin Group to help them with their resume, executives are paying George to put them in the funnel.

WIN-WIN

When you read the title of this blog, you might have thought, “that sounds shady.” But George maintains that it’s not a ploy, it’s actually a win-win. George’s clients get a business partner – someone that can help them tell their story properly, and help them get the placement they are looking for. George, in turn, has a direct line to executive-level decision-makers at new companies. The model works because The McGehrin Group is providing value to the customer first, which builds trust. And trust is stronger than any marketing tool because, at the end of the day, people do business with people they trust.

THE CONSISTENCY THEORY

The consistency theory is “a class of social psychological theory holding that people are chiefly motivated by a desire to maintain congruence or consistency among their cognitions” (APA Dictionary of Psychology). In business terms, people are more likely to want to buy from the same company again than to go somewhere else because they’ve bought from them before and had a good experience. George’s stumbled-upon model is an example of tripwire marketing, a strategy that makes use of consistency theory – “the practice of offering leads a low-cost product with the intention of selling them more expensive products later. Tripwire marketing is a common practice intended to increase first customer acquisition” (ActiveCampaign). So ask yourself this: what could you be offering at the beginning of your sales cycle – to get your foot in the door and start the relationship – that would fit this model?

RECESSION-PROOF

While the recruiting business is subject to the peaks and valleys of the market, executive branding is not. In a recession, executives who have lost their jobs or whose companies have folded are looking for work, and in a bull market, new companies are being built and are looking to fill executive positions. So under current circumstances, the branding business is actually financing the recruiting business. George suggests you take a look at what your company can offer, and discover what the second, third, or fourth service is that could finance the bigger business in a time of crisis. This offering comes at a lower price, creates value regardless of the market, and creates the opportunity for future follow up.

COMPETING AGAINST LARGE COMPANIES

To George, The McGehrin’s Group’s success in a competitive market comes down to 2 factors: stability and relationships. A lot of recruiting companies deal with high salesperson turnover, so candidates and organizations may have to deal with dozens of salespeople throughout their relationship with a firm, which isn’t good for trust. And there is a lot of trust involved when you’re signing a $500,000 contract with $250,000 upfront. And building relationships is also a strong suit for George and his team. When COVID-19 hit, The McGehrin Group sent out an email to everyone saying “if you need anything from us, or if anyone in your family needs anything from us just shoot us an email and we’ll see what we can do”. You can bet their large competitors were too focused on the bottom line to do something like this. So that’s why, according to George, size isn’t a factor. Like when you pick a lawyer, you’re going to pick the person you trust whether they’re an employee of Baker McKenzie or some boutique firm. 

OUTBOUND 

As we’ve touched on a couple of times in this blog post, George’s model opens the door for future opportunities, so follow up is key. His team reaches out to clients on the branding and recruiting side periodically to see how things are going and stay top of mind.

DIY

Ask yourself these questions:

Who are my customers?

What are the jobs to be done that they could be looking for help with?

What do they need help with outside of my product that we have knowledge in?

Where else can we provide value?

Pro-tip from George: ask your customer. They know you, they know your offering, they’ve worked with you and seen what you can do. Ask them what else you should be doing to help people, and what else they need help with.

CONCLUSION: 

George McGehrin stumbled onto a goldmine with his tripwire marketing style mistake-turned-business model. He found a way to start a relationship, build trust, provide value and gain a direct line of contact into the executive level of companies all over the place, and for his clients to pay him to do it. And while his discovery of this model may not be so much a mistake as a happy accident, George maintains that the real mistake was not getting there sooner by simply asking his clients what else they needed. So take George’s advice and look for the knowledge and expertise that your team already has that you’re not charging for, and use it.

EDITOR’S NOTE: 

More on pricing models: ProfitWell’s Patrick Campbell on the nuances of pricing and why salespeople aren’t more involved

How outbound is impacted by pricing: Cost vs Yield in Outbound Sales Might Be the Most Important Concept You’re Missing

Aaron’s opinion on Freemium models: 10x

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