Are you a consultant, a professional, a coach or a service provider who has had a client do something egregious that really pissed you off? If so, how did you respond?
I’m writing this blog on November 23rd, which is the birthday of my long-time business partner and friend Roberto. Thinking about him on his birthday, I remembered something he taught me years ago: the difference between thinking with my heart and thinking with my liver.
When Roberto was upset about something – a client who was disrespectful perhaps, or an employee who was being unreasonable – he would write them a letter telling them precisely how he felt. Then, instead of sending the note to the offender, he’d send it to me with this memo attached: “¿Escribé con mi corazón o mi hígado?” (“Did I write with my heart or my liver?”).
If I responded that he wrote it with his heart, he’d consider sending it. If I said he wrote it with his liver, he’d throw it away.
I recently talked to a potential client (let’s call her Desdemona) who needs my help. I spent a long time listening to her issues and finally came back to her with a proposal to help fix her problem. I felt very good about my recommendation because what she needs is EXACTLY what I know how to do.
Instead of accepting or rejecting my proposal, she counter offered. Her basic premise was that I shouldn’t charge much for the project because all she needed was “a few hours to work through her problem together.”
Of course I said no. Repeatedly. But her response bugged me enough to write this email:
As much as I enjoyed chatting with you the other day, I didn’t feel good about the way we left things. I’m betting you feel the same way.
I know I can help you. But you don’t see enough value in my solution and you don’t want to pay me. I get that.
Don’t worry, I’m not writing to try to talk you into anything. I’m won’t be snarky and ask: “Which part of my brain do you want me not to use when I’m giving you the tools that I’ve learned over the past 40+ years?”
I’m not going to be condescending and say: “Being paid for the few hours it’ll take is a joke.”
I’m not going to argue: “I’ve done this work for some of the biggest companies in the world for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Why shouldn’t you pay a fair price?”
I’m certainly not going to fall back on an old joke: A man in terrible pain goes to a dentist. The dentist says, ‘I know just how to fix this problem. The procedure will take 16 minutes. It costs two thousand dollars.’ The man responds, ‘yes, my pain is blinding, but I’m not paying you two thousand dollars for 16 minutes work!’ The dentist nods. ‘I understand. I’ll charge you three hundred dollars; the procedure will take four hours.’
Instead, I’m offering you the same service I provide for similar clients (call them and they’ll give you details). I’m inviting you to come into the same small circle where I and a small number of extraordinarily successful people live and work.
I’ll teach you to do what I do. I’ll teach you to get paid by results, to get paid for expertise, to get paid for what you know. You will never charge by the hour again. And I’ll teach you how to do this with no upfront charge. Free. Zero dollars down. No risk to you at all.
Here’s how it works: you told me you earned $150,000 in 2019. Let’s say next year you earn $250,000. Just pay me half of the difference. That’s an extra $50,000 for you. For the next nine years, pay me a third of the extra money you make. If you earn $300,000 in 2022, that’s $100,000 more for you.
There’s no limit on how much advice, expertise, experience, and guidance you can receive. I can change your life for the better. I can help you make an extra million dollars over the next decade. Probably more.
Let me know if you’d like to proceed.
I threw the letter away. Happy birthday Roberto. And thank you.
Bruce, throwing the letter away was a wise move. There is an old saying: “some people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” We can’t make people see the value in what we do, we can only explain it to them and hope that they get it. She clearly did not.
Thank you David!
Bruce — Your blog posts are awesome — I read them all for enlightenment and always with a feeling of “I wish I could muster this myself.” I appreciate you taking the time to write and post.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!
Thank you Albert. So glad you read my posts. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family too.
Love this Bruce! Food for thought in my dog training business. Peace, B
Thanks Mark. I’ve found it to be universal — glad to see it will help you in the wonderful work you do with dogs.
Very nice, Bruce. Good stuff. Chris
Thank you Chris. Coming from you that’s quite a compliment.
Masterful is right! This one was amazing! You did a great job of making your point! And its a great selling piece.
Bruce-Hope all well with you and yours in sunny Florida. Just wanted to share a quote I heard awhile back that I always liked and seems to apply to the situation you shared.
I’m betting you’ve probably seen it before but wanted to share anyway: ‘You get paid for the years, not the hours.’
Have a good Thanksgiving. Keep up the good work.
Thank you Alan. A great quote and very eloquent — said everything my blog said in nine words. Wonderful!
Masterful storytelling, Bruce. You set it up, pulled us into the passive-aggressive letter so we’d forget the set-up, and then circled back. Another winner. Did the actual client’s name begin with D? Just wondering.
Thank you David. I won’t reveal whom I’m writing about but no, there’s no D in their name.