So, I don’t know if you’ve ever read the book “How To Win Friends And Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. It’s a great book, and one of the things that it says in the book that I think really stands out is the sweetest sound in peoples’ ears is their own name. People love that. So winning friends and influencing people usually means you can grow your business, right? And that’s kind of what my podcast and blog are about.
Today I want to talk about making yourself obsolete. Yes, I want you to figure out how to lose friends and influence people. You won’t necessarily lose friends, but how does making yourself obsolete make you more valuable now?
If something is important enough, people will choose to take care of it at that moment. But it has to be something nagging. So if the light’s out on your car and you don’t drive at night, you don’t worry about it so much. But if you’re working the third shift at work and you get pulled over because your headlight’s out, it’s a little bit more of a problem, right?
So, obviously, the value of any solution is directly correlated to the need to get it fixed. One thing most businesses do is spend a lot of time trying to build up a lifetime of clients, which is an admirable goal. But in certain businesses, it actually is better if you make yourself obsolete. For example, if you’re in a medical profession, you don’t want to be somebody that everybody needs forever. Now, they may, but the key thing is if you can cure their problem, then you become obsolete at some point and you just find somebody else to fill that space, right?
The Answers Are In The Questions
Now, that’s the key. Is your business product or service something where you can help people to become self-sufficient, so that they don’t need you anymore?
Now, I often run into simple problems. Somebody’s having a problem on a website, they’re getting too much spam, they need a form fixed, they want this added… It’s usually something simple. But it’s a symptom of a bigger problem.
An example of this could be when a client calls me up and says, “I want to change the form on our website because we need more information.” As I start to dig a little deeper, I find out it’s not just the form, it’s the whole system behind the form that’s broken. That’s where I come in and say, “Hey, not only can I fix your form, but I can get it where the form will actually pull that data into your CRM and now you can actually get leads from those forms and follow up on them.” But, they have to have a system to do that, right? So then I can help them design the system. It’s not something that’s going to take me years or months; it’s going to take maybe a week. The bottom line is, they came up with a small problem and I found a slightly bigger problem that was behind the small problem, and I offered that as a solution. And guess what? They’re satisfied and we’re going to do it.
The bottom line is, a lot of the time when people ask you questions, they don’t know which questions to ask to get to the root cause of the problem that they really have. The best way for you to get to the root of that problem is to give away free advice, meaning give as much information as they need to make a much more educated decision. That means you may have to spend some time; it may look like sending them to some videos, spending more time on the phone, possibly meeting with them face to face. But the key is, by giving away your time and your knowledge, you’ll be able to figure out the best solution for these people at the time that they need it. And guess what? You become the hero.
Today, I have three key points that I want to get across about making yourself and your services obsolete that are going to help you to generate the best outcomes for everybody, including yourself.
They Don’t Need You For Life
First, make the client understand, or at least feel, like they don’t need what you’re doing for them for life. There’s a fear of commitment. Now, I believe this commitment originated back in the 1970s when people started getting magazines and albums and CDs automatically shipped to them every single month. It was harder to cancel this subscription than it was to subscribe. It was crazy. But that is true today. You want to make sure that you create a very realistic system and time-frame that they can understand.
How To Understand The Immediate Value
The other thing that’s important about this is letting them know how to recognize success when they see it. You need to provide them with the key performance indicators, or the signal from God or whatever it is, the thing that’s going to be so obvious to them that when they’ve hit that success point that they’ve achieved what you told them you could do and they can make the decision to continue on or stop. And that’s okay.
So, the second piece of this puzzle is getting them to understand the immediate value in payback that you provide. Now, a lot of people have that fear of missing out: if I don’t do this, I’m going to miss out that. So if you create fear in people, a lot of the time it holds them back. What you have to do is help them to visualize where they will be once they work out the problem.
If you could say, “I understand your problem. This is what’s holding you back and these are the steps that we need to go through to get you past that problem.” If they can start to visualize this, you can help them to understand that they are always in control. They don’t need you to hold them up the whole time. And that brings us to our third point.
Clearly Communicate Realistic Expectations
Our third point is to set realistic expectations, but get them to visualize the day they don’t need you anymore.
Do you remember riding a bike and your parents said they’re going to take off the training wheels? Do you remember how apprehensive you were? Well, that’s essentially what you have to do with people, to get them to understand that yes, you’re going to take off the training wheels, but you’re there to hold them up so they don’t fall over. So what you have to do is use visualization words like “imagine” or “what would it be like” or “could you see yourself”. Make it super, super clear that there is a process and there’s a beginning, there’s a middle and there’s an end. Help them to actually see those things in progress and how to measure what’s happening at each one of those phases. In order to do that, you have to make sure that you have a clear plan, you manage their expectations, and you have realistic goals for each of the steps and results.
So, the three things again are:
- Make the clients know they don’t need you for life.
- Get them to understand the immediate value and payback, things they can recognize.
- Set realistic expectations and get them to visualize the day they don’t need you anymore.
Part of this process is creating case studies, testimonials, getting your customer to trust their gut, like (A) you know what you’re doing, (B) other people have trusted you and you’ve given them positive results, and (C) you have the ability to get them from where they are to where they want to be. I want to leave you with one final thought: never ever be afraid to say no to a customer. If you don’t think you can help them be a success, then don’t take that chance.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Comment below and share your thoughts, ideas or questions about showing the concepts presented. Have you had to overcome any of the presented concepts? What worked and what did not live up to expectations? Do you have any ideas or advice you could share?