Sunday, March 27, 2011

Getting Naked by Patrick Lencioni

Once again I picked up one of Lencioni's business books for a quick read between some heavier non-fiction topics.  Not that Lencioni is "light", at least in terms of value.  Definitely his "fables" (his term) are an easy, short read.  But he uses that format to deliver some interesting business lessons.

In Getting Naked, Lencioni makes the case for allowing yourself to be vulnerable in front of the client.  The alternative is to hold on to three types of fears, fears that the client can sense.  And if the client senses those fears you won't get the business.  Those fears are:
  1. Fear of losing the business.  If a client senses this, they know that you're more interested in maintaining them as near-term income rather than helping them succeed in the long term.
  2. Fear of being embarrassed.  When you fear this, you hold back ideas just in case you might be wrong.  But a client who senses this thinks you're not giving their work everything you've got and that you lack transparency.
  3. Fear of feeling inferior.  Are you more interested in maintaining a sense of status over the client or simply in doing whatever it takes to help them?
So how does Lencioni propose you get over those fears?

How to Get Over Fear of Losing the Business

Always consult instead of sell.
  1. Every sales opportunity is a chance to demonstrate the value of what you do.
  2. Start working for the client from the first moment.
  3. For every one client who takes advantage of you (by taking your advice but then not hiring you) the other nine will start seeing themselves as your client before they actually are.
Give away the business.
  1. Demonstrating generosity and trust helps you turn prospects into clients.
  2. Giving away the business shows that you're more interested in helping them than in the short term revenue.
Tell the kind truth.
  1. Deliver difficult messages if they are in the best interest of the client.
  2. Present the truth with kindness, empathy, and respect.
Enter the danger.
  1. Fearlessly deal with issues others are afraid to address.
  2. You will be seen as having courage and integrity.
Getting Over the Fear of Being Embarrassed

Ask dumb questions, make dumb suggestions.
  1. Humbly and quickly acknowledge the dumbest ones and move on – they'll be forgotten.
Don't hold back.
  1. Celebrate your mistakes.
  2. It's inevitable that you'll be wrong sometimes.  Take responsibility and move on.
  3. Clients don't expect perfection – they expect honesty and transparency.
Getting Over the Fear of Feeling Inferior

Take a bullet for the client.
  1. Take some of their burden in a difficult situation - but don't let them get away with it, and be sure to confront them later.
  2. This builds trust and loyalty.
Make everything about the client.
  1. Downplay your own accomplishments.
  2. Understand, honor, and support the client's business.
Honor the client's work.
  1. Take an active interest in the client's business and its importance to them.
  2. If you can't honor the client's work, don't take their business in the first place
Do the dirty work.
  1. Doing whatever needs to be done, regardless of the prestige, demonstrates your dedication to their business.
Getting Over All the Fears
  1. Admit your weaknesses and limitations.
  2. If you cover up your weaknesses you'll wear yourself out by being something you're not.
  3. Being something you're not also means you can't be something you're good at.


Francis Shivone said...

I liked the bullet points and have thought about each one in some way. Everyone who works with clients, temperamentally, does some of them better than others, so the struggle is to act against our nature.

Good points that I will re-read and think about.

John said...

I was talking about this book with someone on our sales team today and he said that Lencioni's advice in Getting Naked goes against most every other sales strategy he's aware of. Those strategies place a premium on getting something back for every little thing you give away - quid pro quo. But Lencioni wants you to just start working for the client.

Francis Shivone said...

I agree with your sales team. It is counter to almost everything taught out there.

And even though I agree with the book, the one-chance close people *may* have better results, at least in some businesses.

Personally, I had one main "client" for twenty-five years because I made his business my business. But we became friends so it was definitely not a typical client/vendor relation.

There are many nuances to this subject. I enjoy it. Thanks.