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honest and direct communication
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Honest and direct communication

Friday, 8 July 2011

I've been in the very fortunate position this week to get in front of three potential brand new clients - all blue chip, one in financial services, one in accountancy, and one in the drinks industry. Having the opportunity to talk to the right people in organisations like this about their needs is a Godsend for a small training organisation - an opportunity to grasp with both hands, and with anything else that's available!

Over the years, I've also developed what seems to be a pretty decent style of non-selling. a combination of (I hope) the right balance of confidence in what I do and comfort in knowing what I don't do means I can have a very open conversation with people, and, if we hit it off, brilliant. If not, then it wouldn't have been the right work to undertake anyway, and I'll get someone else involved.

Open, honest, straightforward communication - it's at the core of our training, so it should be at the core of our doing as well.

Let me be really honest though, and confess that I'm far from a saint when it comes to discussing one particular issue. The price. It's embarrassing. Where do you start? I'm essentially putting a monetary value on me, and if it's too low, I don't value myself enough, and if it's too high, it's either arrogance or will price us out of work. I confess - it's the one, big, area that I've tended to fluff, to bluster, and to deliberately be as unclear as possible, because of fear.

The good news is that I'm overcoming it. On all three occasions this week, I was able to look my potential client in the eye and say "here's what it costs". It felt comfortable, it was a relief to just do it, and no-one was in the least bit surprised (apart from me, a bit!) or offended.

Enough about me

So what? I think there are a number of lessons from this personal development that can be applied more broadly, both to other people in similar professional services industries, and to people and businesses in very different ones.

The critical aspects seem to be:

One of the great joys of working for P&G in the sales department - or Customer Business Development, as they prefer - was that there was a published, open, price list. I never, not once, got into a discussion about price with a customer, and it was bliss!

10 years later, I've finally learnt that lesson for myself. I have a price for the service I offer, and that's it. Open, honest, and straightforward.

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