The Three Fears of Service Providers
By Philip Elworth
Patrick Lencioni, author, consultant and speaker recently published the book, Getting Naked, which describes his vision of the way a professional service firm should operate. His approach is basically one of fear avoidance. His views mirror so many of my own and how as a partner with B2B CFO® I have been trained to provides services, that I thought I would wet your appetite to investigate this topic at a deeper level. Previously, I have written that many more businesses provide professional services than is normally recognized. You can manufacture a product but still provide service to your customer in the design and manufacturing process. Thus this topic applies to many organizations.
Patrick simplified his view of providing service into three simple fears:
1. The fear of losing the business
2. The fear of being embarrassed
3. The fear of feeling inferior
You become successful by getting past the fear.
The fear of losing the business is negated by demonstrating your competence and ability to help the client, showing them that you care about them instead of just growing your business. You do this by giving away your service. As a partner with B2B CFO® I provide, what we term, a phase I analysis. In order for me to understand the problem faced by a business owner, I ask for permission to dig deeper into the underlying cause of the issue. I do this at no charge. When I have completed my analysis, I provide a written report showing where the business is today and how we together can move the business forward. During this entire process I am looking for opportunities to add value and help the client, long before we have spoken about price. By the time we get to the discussion of fees, the conversation is more about getting started.
You get past the fear of being embarrassed by being willing to face your own inadequacies. As an advisor, I do not know everything. I will freely admit that I do not have all the answers, but as a partner with B2B CFO® I have, as of this writing, 184 partners with 5,200 years of experience which means together, we can solve the problem. I have also had situations with clients where I have been wrong. When this happens I will quickly own it and depending upon the circumstances apologize for it or make fun of myself, but in all situations I will fix it. Never back down from asking questions you do not know the answer to, no matter how elementary they are. No question is a dumb question; if you do not know the answer. Be willing to take a bullet for the client. I have been in situations where my recommendation was to terminate or lay off employees. I readily volunteered to be the bad guy; to help deliver the message or to be the fall guy so the owner could save face.
The third fear, of being inadequate, goes to our own attitudes. As an advisor you must be able to honor and celebrate your clients work if you are going to take on the assignment. If you have a problem or a moral issue with the client’s business; then refer the work on to someone else. You must be fully in your client’s camp. You can show this by being willing to do the dirty work, whatever that may be. Be vulnerable, humble and transparent with your client. If the client asks you to do a task, associated with your assignment, but something you consider below your station, be willing to do it and do it willingly. That is transparency.
Bottom line; find the way to help your client and lift them up, even if it means diminishing yourself. If we put our client first and ourselves second it will only lead to success.