Lencioni has “done it again.” Only this time he is telling an incredible story about his own business – the Table Group. I heard Lencioni speak at a conference back in November of 2010, and he admitted that it took him a long time to get around to listening to friends and colleagues who suggested that he really did need to write this book. However, he was reticent to “toot my own horn” and so this excellent book was put off for quite some time. But it is here now and is definitely worth the time to read.
Lencioni breaks the topic of building customer loyalty for those of us in the consulting/mentoring business into shedding the three fears. The first fear is losing the business, the second is being embarrassed and the third fear is of feeling inferior. Almost any entrepreneur can relate to these fears and I think that consultants, coaches, mentors and advisors even more so. Since Lencioni is telling the story of his own consulting business, this fable rings true to my experience as a consultant and business advisor.
The fear of losing the business comes mainly from having an attitude of scarcity. The advice, contrary to what you will hear from many folks is to “Consult, don’t sell” and “Give away the business.” I cannot tell you how many of my mentors have admonished me – “David, don’t give away your expertise. You deserve to be paid.” Thankfully, I accepted but ignored the part about “don’t give it away.” I still believe that I deserve to be paid – when I earn it! Lencioni agrees. He is consulting with the client even before there is a contract in place. He also advises that we “Tell the Kind Truth.” We are admonished to “Enter the danger” meaning, don’t be afraid to go where you are uncomfortable or “afraid” to go.
The fear of being embarrassed. Of course this comes from our need to “look good.” That, however, will get us nowhere. Don’t be afraid to “Ask dumb questions,” “make dumb suggestions” and “celebrate your mistakes.” It is always good to be slow to learn, to have an empty mind not focused already on your own canned solutions to things. By being willing to ask dumb questions we will learn a whole lot more not only about our client and their challenges but about our own rigid view of the world.
The fear of feeling inferior. This is closely related to the second fear but is really a deeper seated fear – it requires us to truly be humble as a person, not just take an intellectual risk. If this is done properly, you will be willing to “take a bullet for the client,” make everything about the client,” “Honor the client’s work” and you will be willing to “do the dirty work” as required.
There is no doubt in my mind, at this point at least, that Lencioni’s model is the only one that is truly client centric and the only one that will win in today’s economy. Why would a client be willing to pay good money for a consultant, mentor, advisor or coach without first trusting that person(s) and having confidence in their competence? They won’t, cash is too scarce to take chances and too many folks have had a bad experience with consultants who do not deliver or wind up costing the client excessive time and money. Lencioni has nailed this as far as I’m concerned and anyone in the mood to build long term loyal relationships would do well to pick up and read this excellent book.
Click here to see the book on Amazon.