Am I Slick?

By New York Times bestselling author Michael Levin, CEO, BusinessGhost

“I put an additional $5 million under management in six months, thanks to the book you wrote for me,” my client, a financial advisor, told me.

“So I’m calling to thank you. But I’m also calling to apologize. When we first met, I didn’t like you. I thought you were slick.”


I’ve been called a lot of things in my time, but slick was a new one.

“I’m happy you’re having all the success with the book,” I said, laughing, “But how do you figure I’m slick?”

“You were just so excited about books when we talked,” he replied. “You just made it sound like books were the greatest things in the history of the world. You had all these arguments about why I needed a book, and why I would be so much more successful if I had one.

“I didn’t like you, and I didn’t believe you, but I did it anyway. And you were right and I was wrong.”

As a married man, the phrase “you were right,” or any variation on that theme, is something I seldom get to hear. So naturally I wanted to hear a little more.

“So if you didn’t like me, why’d you hire us?” I asked.

“A bunch of things,” he said. “First, the idea that a book was a way to stand out from the crowd. All my competitors have white papers or folders with some marketing materials. But it’s just basically to shine-and-smile, generic stuff.

“With my book, people actually get to know me before they’ve even met me. They understand where I come from, my family background, why I’m so concerned about clients not losing money, my whole approach to investing, my experience—they get the whole picture.

“So when we finally sit down, they’re almost excited to meet me. I think most people have never actually met an author. With me, they’re starting at the bottom, but they don’t have to know that.”

That sounds like something I say. Not the part about the bottom, but the rest of it.

“Keep going,” I said.

“You told me that a book is the best tool in the world for getting the prospect to convince their spouse. A lot of times, I get on great with the husband, but then when he comes back for a second meeting, there is his wife, sitting there with her arms crossed, staring at me like I’m the second coming of Bernie Madoff.

“Now my prospects were able to give my book to their spouses. They would read the book and say, ‘This is the guy.’ When they came in for the first time, they were already on my side. It was a huge relief not to have to sell the same prospect twice.”

That also sounds like something I say, I thought.

“What else?”

He thought for a moment.

“It was the way you structure the Call to Action,” he said. “You told me that if I created enough value in the book by educating people, if I gave them enough moments that would blow their minds, I would earn the right to have a very meaningful Call to Action.

“You told me to put three things into the Call to Action chapter—not just my name and phone number, but first, an explanation of the kind of clients I like to work with. Approach to retirement, what our minimums are, all that stuff.

“You told me that would cause readers to qualify themselves, and if they weren’t appropriate, they wouldn’t even call. Pretty much everybody who does call because of the book is a serious candidate for us.

“Then you told me to put in what services we offer. It’s on our website, somewhere, but I heard what you said, that people scan websites but they read books. So they were able to see, right when they wanted to see it, exactly what we do for folks, what our process is, and so on.

“And then you told me to describe exactly what happens when people call. You said that people love buying things, but they hate being sold, and they’re always afraid to get into some sort of sales loop they don’t understand.

“So I took your advice and I put into the Call to Action chapter exactly what kind of conversation they would have if they called in. What would happen in the first meeting. What would happen in the second meeting. Why we only charge after the second meeting. And so on.

“You told me if I did this it would take the fear out of picking up the phone and calling us, and you were right. You nailed it.”

I won’t lie—my ego was doing a little happy dance.

But I had to ask.

“Still think I’m slick?” I asked playfully.

There was a long pause.

“No,” he said. “You aren’t slick. You told the truth. But I’ll tell you who looks slick now. Me!”