It’s wonderful when a client refers a friend – especially if that friend runs a company in need of many things, and you quickly learn you’re looking a 12 to 18-month engagement, including trips abroad to work on-premise.
So we get on a call, I ask my questions and answer his… it’s looking good:
We’re a match, there’s budget, there’s many costly and urgent problems to solve… Great!
But there’s a problem:
This company is a supplier of fitness equipment… and I’m not a fitness guy.
I like exercise and so on, but I’m more of a yoga-person, than a kettle-bell person.
So, what would *you* do at that point?
When you’re in your first meeting, it’s going well, you can do the work they’re asking for, but: You have little knowledge, and zero experience, in their field.
Most people would pretend the problem doesn’t exist, and hope the buyer doesn’t ask… at least, not before the contract is signed.
After all, “no experience” doesn’t mean you can’t do the work as a coach or consultant. It just means you need to do more research than normal. Not a problem, so long as the work itself doesn’t require you to have experience.
But that leaves the question: what if *your buyer* requires that you have experience in their field?
A situation like this is what you call “a skeleton in the closet'”.
And the thing to do, is not pretend it doesn’t exist, or hide it, but instead:
Bring that skeleton out, and make that sucker dance.
Which i did:
“There’s a problem here: I’m not a fitness guy.
“If your company is looking for someone with experience in the space, I’m not your guy and we can both carry on with our lives”.
“I’m glad you’re telling me, but: I don’t think it’s a problem. In fact it’s a positive, because you’ll be bringing a fresh pair of eyes. You’l be able to see things we take for granted or aren’t even aware of”.
That’s what you get when you make the skeleton dance. Instead of letting your buyer discover an uncomfortable truth, you bring that truth out, and you talk about it.
The result was that I didn’t have to do any explaining on why it’s not a problem, and possibly even a benefit:
My buyer himself did that explaining.
And now he’s talking to the board of directors, and our next appointment is already scheduled.
Because I didn’t hide the skeleton, but instead I made it dance.
What about you… what kind of skeletons do you have in your business-closet, and how could you make them dance?
On another note:
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