Shep Gordon is an iconic Hollywood talent manager who has represented artists like Rick James, Alice Cooper, Blondie, Kenny Loggins and many more. Throughout his career, Gordon has helped countless clients become household names in the world of showbiz.
While there are countless variables leading to Gordon's massive success, one in particular might surprise you more than the others. Despite being in business for nearly 50 years, Gordon has never had his clients sign a contract. Not one. Instead, business was always done over a simple handshake.
Sound crazy? I thought so too. Here are 3 takeaways all entrepreneurs can gain from Gordon's bizarre, but brilliant trust-building tactic.
1. Immediately building trust.
By not signing formal contracts, Shep Gordon was able to immediately establish trust between himself and his clients. By doing business through a handshake, Gordon was not-so-subtly reinforcing the fact that he had as much vested interest in the success of his client as the artist did. For the artist, the contrast must've been particularly refreshing given how Hollywood managers aren't necessarily known for their honesty and ethics.
While I'm not saying you should go cancel your Docusign account or scrap all your company contracts, there are certainly powerful principles here that you, as an entrepreneur, can apply to different facets of your business. Begin brainstorming which initial touch-points you can have with your customers that could immediately create trust. Perhaps this is sending them a free copy of your latest ebook, being open and transparent about your pricing structure, or being candid about your company's specialities and shortcomings.
2. Streamlining the decision-making process.
"I mean, if you don't feel I'm giving you value, if you think this is a one-sided relationship, go to someone else." - Shep Gordon
Another benefit of Gordon's tactic here is speeding up the process when it comes to determining whether or not him and his client were a good fit for business. Better to find out if an artist is serious or not as soon as the relationship begins rather than 2 years later when they're not delivering on their promises. Gordon made it clear that if an artist didn't want to be there, they could leave at any time.
Time is money for any business, so time spent being scrambled around by flaky prospects can be detrimental to your bottom line. Begin thinking of crafty ways to filter out the flakes for your own business. Maybe it's having them fill out a moderately-lengthy form to make sure they're serious about doing business. Maybe it's them signing up for a Skype conversation versus watching a pre-recorded video. The sky is the limit here.
3. Creating an environment where honesty is king.
"So you have to have the kind of a relationship with the artist where you feel that you can fail, and you pick each other up harder during the failures." - Shep Gordon
While it's common sense that honesty is king is romantic relationships or friendships, it's certainly not as common in business relationships and partnerships. Instead, we're taught to sweep things under the rug from fear of losing customers. Yet, business is just like anything else. When both the client and the company trust each other enough that they feel comfortable giving honest feedback no matter the circumstances, success won't be far behind.
By creating an environment where honesty is king, no resentment will build up between you and your clients, you'll be able to troubleshoot pressing problems within your business and more.
By going "old school" and doing business through a handshake, Shep Gordon was able to kick off his client relationships right by immediately gaining their trust and more. By doing the same in your own business, you could truly take your business to new heights.
Over to you: What trust-building exercises are you currently using for your own brand?