Have I Got Your Attention?
I recently finished the audio book Getting Naked by Patrick Lencioni. This book is a business fable. It tells the story of a business consulting firm that buys one of its biggest competitors. The firm is quickly faced with the realization that the culture of the two firms is very, very different. The purchasing firm (Kendrick and Black) is very sales focused with much more of a corporate feel. The firm that was purchased (Light House) is a very relaxed organization with a much more helpful and client focused perspective.
Kendrick and Black is stunned to find out that Light House charges higher rates and has taken many a client away from Kendrick and Black. The clients are happy to pay more because they feel like Light House really cares about them. Light House isn’t afraid to ask the tough questions, listen deeply to the answers, and not be afraid if the question offends anyone because it gets to the truth of what the clients’ problems are. As I listened to this fable, it reinforced my beliefs about dealing with homeowners.
What Is ‘Getting Naked’?
There are times when husbands and wives can’t agree. It’s up to you as the professional to make the recommendations that are “right,” but not popular. Sometimes the truth is not popular, it’s not inexpensive, and it may not be a crowd pleaser — but it’s “right.” You may have to play mediator and ask the tough questions that get homeowners communicating with each other about a furnace, an air conditioner, or a necessary plumbing repair when they can’t even agree on what’s for dinner. That’s allowing yourself to get naked with homeowners.
In my book, Selling at the Kitchen Table: A Contractor’s Guide to Closing the Deal, I speak about getting to the honest truth while maintaining your integrity and keeping the customer’s best interests in mind. Sometimes you have to even be willing to walk away from a situation if it compromises those beliefs. You have to be willing to tell the naked truth even if it’s not what a customer wants to hear.
Have You Got the Courage?
I recently met with a homeowner who was selling their house. Their air conditioning system needed a complete replacement but the homeowner wanted to go the inexpensive route and just change the outdoor condensing unit with the bad compressor. I explained to “Joe” the homeowner that if he went the cheap route he would really be setting up the person that buys the house for an even more costly repair in the near future. Joe didn’t want to take advantage of anyone, and decided to replace the whole system. It takes courage to have tough conversations sometimes, but that’s what getting naked with your customers is all about.
I’ve even walked away from sales in certain situations if the customer was insisting on something that lacked honesty or compromised my value system. I believe that if you stay the naked-truth route with your customers, everyone wins in the long run.
The book, Selling at the Kitchen Table: A Contractor’s Guide to Closing the Deal, by Michael O’Grady, is available at www.SellingattheKitchenTable.com.
Publication date: 12/05/2011