Wednesday, November 17, 2010

How to Stop Being Nice and Start Becoming Necessary

That’s nice, but… We’re not Apple.
That’s nice, but… That doesn’t help me.
That’s nice, but… How much will this cost?
That’s nice, but… How does that affect the bottom line?
That’s nice, but… That doesn’t really answer my question.

So much for the power of nice.

Not that there’s anything wrong with being nice.

BUT HERE’S THE DIFFERENCE: Nice gets commended, necessary gets compensated.

Which word describes the work you do?

Let’s explore a list of strategies to help you stop being nice and start becoming necessary:
1. Hit them in the wallet quicker. One of my clients, Aaron, is a nurse practitioner. He consults with hospitals, healthcare organizations and other medical professionals on how to practice heart-centered care. During one of our email mentoring sessions, he enlightened me about the mindset of a typical hospital administrator:

“If it doesn’t directly relate to patient care – they don’t care.”

To them, that’s what matters. It’s a bottom-line focus. It’s a self-interest that pivots on the principle of profitability. Not just for hospitals – for all organizations. For all customers.

Not that it’s always about money, but let’s not kid ourselves: People think with their wallets. And to move from nice to necessary, you have to hit them there quicker.

One suggestion for doing so comes from a recent issue of FastCompany. Made to Stick authors Dan & Chip Heath suggest that you sell aspirin, not vitamins.

“If you want to succeed, you’d better be selling aspirin rather than vitamins. Vitamins are nice; they're healthy. But aspirin cures your pain; it's not a nice-to-have, it's a must-have.”

That’s how you hit them in the wallet quicker. That’s how nice becomes necessary: When what you do unearths your customer’s deeply felt needs. Is your organization selling a better mousetrap or a dead mouse?

2. Be gloriously explicit. What do all coaches and consultants have in common? Nobody knows what the hell they really do. Because of low barriers to entry, minimal training requirements and mass-market saturation, coaching and consulting are poorly defined service offerings. Which makes most coaches and consultants nice – but not necessary.

For that reason, five years ago I introduced a first-of-its-kind service called, Rent Scott’s Brain. People bonded with it instantly. More importantly, people bought it instantly. That moved the service from nice to necessary, because it offered people (who valued my thinking) access to a one of a kind product.

That’s your mission: To show people exactly what you do so they can decide whether or not they need it. I’m not just talking about honesty – this is radical transparency. Making no qualms about what you do, what you don’t do and what happens when you do it. How explicitly are your service offerings defined?

3. Embrace your outsiderness. People need fresh air. A new perspective. Someone from the outside to point out the glaring inconsistencies they’re too close to themselves to see. That’s the three-fold advantage to being an outsider.

First: Outsiders bring objectivity. This moves you from nice to necessary for several reasons: You have little or no bias. Your can recognize patterns immediately. You have no stake. You don’t bring vested interests to an existing problem. You can explore structure with fresh eyes. And you’re not viewed as a threat.

Second: Outsiders invite freedom. As an outsider, you don’t face traditional barriers. You’re unaware of common creative blocks. You’re not subject certain internal politics. And you can challenge assumptions that were never considered, or taken for granted.

Third: Outsiders expand thinking. Because you’re detached from outcomes. Because you’re not so close to the situation and, therefore have limited agendas. And because your body of experience applies cross-industrially.

The point is: It’s a lot easier to break the limit when you don’t know the limit exists. And the less you know, the more likely you are to come up with an original idea. That’s what I tell my clients: “I don’t know anything. And that’s exactly why I’m here.”

Remember: Sometimes it takes a person who knows nothing to change everything. How are you positioned as an equitable outsider?

4. Baseline remarkability isn’t enough. Crystal Pepsi was remarkable, but irrelevant. It was nice, but not necessary. That’s the trap many organizations to fall victim to: Being remarkable for the sake of being remarkable.

Most of the time, this is the result of falling in love with your own marketing. And the problem is: If there’s no sustainability and substance beyond baseline remarkability, you never transcend nice. The goal is to seek enduring remarkability.

My suggestion: Listen to people tell you what’s not working for them. Hell, you can even ask them: “What urgent, expensive, important problem do you have – that nobody else is attending to?” When you become known as someone who acknowledges what’s been tragically neglected, someone who overcomes the poisonous accumulation of unsatisfied customer wishes, necessary will be an understatement.

Remember: People can tell their friends all they want about you. But if there’s no substance to anchor your shtick, if there’s no pervasive problem-solving to support your product, you won’t last. Any number multiplied by zero is still zero. Do you truly offer meaningful uniqueness?

5. Dare to be dumm. You can’t avoid the appearance of ignorance forever. But it takes tremendous courage and humility to stand up in the middle of a meeting and say, “Does anyone else smell that?” or “Am I the only one, or is this confusing to you guys too?” That’s what the necessary do: They speak truth to people’s hearts. And if you want to do so, keep your eye out for three patterns:

First, ideas that are simply too convenient to be killed. Grab a pistol and be the one to speak up. Otherwise nothing will ever change.

Second, problems that are so simple and familiar that they become hidden. Pull them out from behind the curtain and expose them to world.

Third, people who are too comfortable to feel the weight of their own stupidity. Your job is to find evidence of burden wherever you can.

Now, keep in mind: You’re not here to be a downer – but you don’t want to put lipstick and makeup on the truth. Ultimately, to be necessary is to become a delightful disturbance. To snap open people’s eyes, strike at the very root and translate floating abstractions into concrete realities.

And if you can make but a few people pause, you win. And so do they. Are you ignoring the elephant in the room, talking about the elephant in the room, or jumping on its back and teaching it how to dance?

6. Positioning wins ballgames. It’s not about marketshare – it’s about mindshare. Your goal is to walk into a room as a peer of the people, a trusted resource to the people and a problem solver with the people. Like Jack Trout’s wrote in Positioning, “Don’t create the product – build the position behind the product in the prospect’s mind.”

Let’s break down each of the three roles.

First: A peer. A friend. Not someone who surreptitiously memorized the names of your family members to make it look like he cares. And not one of those lame-ass, social media pseudo friends that don’t actually know anything about who you really are. I’m talking about a real friend. Someone who knows what you ache for. Someone who’s well versed in your why. And someone who knows is how you think, how you live and whom you love. Do your clients, coworkers and superiors think of you that way?

Second: A trusted resource. Which means even if you don’t know the answer, you know the questions that will point people to the answer. And through the depth of what you deliver, you don’t make people ask, “Should we hire this guy?” but rather, “How should we use this guy?”

Third: A problem solver. Which means you’re the answer to something that matters. You’re don’t just learn about your customers’ businesses – you learn about their brain. You try their heads on. And when the time comes, you practice restraint when it comes to deliver answers. No need to deploy every weapon you have. No need to teach people how to build a watch – just tell them what time it is.

Remember: The stronger your pre-sale position, the easier it is to get to yes. How are you positioned prior to making the sale?

7. Serve people as if they were already paying clients. You don’t need to give away the farm – but by helping at a high level now, you help people find a way to pay you later. It’s all in the mindset you maintain. For example, if you walk in the door thinking:

“It’s just a free gig. I can half ass it. I’ll bring my b-game and save the good stuff for people who actually pay,” your performance will suffer as a result. Not to the extent that the client will really notice the difference – but to the extent that the client will assume that’s all you’ve got.

On the other hand, if you walk in the door thinking, “I know they’re not paying me, but I’m still going to rock their faces off. I’m going to make them laugh, make them understand and make them marvel. And I’m going to engage them emotionally with an unbroken series of value-driven actions, an extraordinarily pure heart and an indispensible presence,” people will be so blown away that they’ll have no choice but to start paying you.

That’s what happens when you throw your full attention to the world of the client: They throw their full budget to the world of your bank account. Or they call security. How are you making it clear that your focus is on helping and not charging?

8. Be a vital component, not just a helpful addition. A few years ago, my friend John Janstch told me the secret of his blog commenting strategy: Don’t just comment – contribute. Now, although we’re not talking about blogging today, the same general principal applies. You have to transform yourself into a value-adding machine.

That’s how you move from nice to necessary: By not being selfish with your knowledge. By positioning yourself as the only path to fulfillment. By positioning your expertise in such a way that people wouldn’t dare go into the marketplace without your opinion first. And by sharing your expertise generously so people recognize it, embrace it and eventually depend on you for it.

Soon, people in your office, people in your network and people in your marketplace will start coming to your for your time. Because they won’t want to make a move without consulting you first.

Remember: If your absence doesn’t make a noticeable difference, why would people bother inviting you back? You want to become so imminently significant, that your client’s world crumbles when you’re not around. When you walk out of a room, how does it change?

In conclusion, I’d like to talk about something that never fails to amaze me:

The stark difference between the value you think you deliver, and the value your customers actually remember.

One of the groups I work with provides seminars, coaching and resources to unemployed professionals. And after a recent workshop, my client expressed something that blew my hair back:

“Don’t get me wrong, Scott. The material was great. The slides were stimulating. And the delivery was engaging. But these people need to laugh. Some of them have been unemployed for over a year now, and their spirits are sagging. So, the fact that they just spent the last three hours of their lives with smiles on their faces and chuckles in their bellies is exactly what they didn’t realize they needed. That’s the value you bring – and it’s priceless. Thanks.”

You know, it’s amazing: When you deliver a dose of positivity, you achieve a stroke of superiority.

And I agree that hope isn’t a strategy. I also agree that the people who inspire an atmosphere of hope are the last to be shown the door.

My suggestion:

Engage the muscle of yes.
Remain radiant amidst the filth of the world.
There will be no escaping the echoes of your enthusiasm.

And your radiance will propel you lightyears beyond nice and into the galaxy of necessary.

How much money is nice making you?

For the list called, “20 Ways to Make Customers Feel Comfortable" send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor

Never the same speech twice.

Now booking for 2011!

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