Taxi! What Consultants Can Learn From Cab Drivers
Most consultants are like taxi drivers. Drivers manage the meter. They throw the luggage in the trunk (this is a $ 1.00 bag charge). They may or may not be personal. If you have extra passengers, it is $ 1.50 each over the kilometers. No smoking. And the radio is set to their favorite station, not yours.
Most consultants charge the hour or day. The meter runs. If you need a special report or their attendance at an on-site meeting, it’s your business magazine. They may or may not be personal to anyone other than the executive who hired them. If you need additional work or facilitation or expertise, there is a fee above the mileage. And most often, you don’t include your radio station in their methodologies, their licensed tools, their processes, yours.
What if you got a dramatically different kind of taxi driver? Let’s call him Ike.
- Ike has his own business card with his personal cell phone number, a rocket logo and a humorous tagline like Strap. Hang on. Here we go! One of its remarkable features is the Hot Wheels steering wheel cover. Your initial impression may be that he is direct and, more importantly, quick.
- In addition, Ike is a good listener. This would be in contrast to some real characters, who are good talks.
- Ike takes credit cards and proudly shows the Visa and American Express bullets in his taxi. A credit card transaction costs him between 2 and 4% of each sale. (The taxi company does not subsidize this fee to each individual manager to decide if he wants to accept credit cards.) But it also makes him easy to do business and by chance increases the likelihood of getting a nice tip.
- Ike is proactive and offers suggestions. For example, when a passenger asks Ike for a good restaurant recommendation, he has some of his favorite places in mind and a restaurant guide available in the front seat of the taxi. Ike will be offering to take his passenger to the restaurant, and also to come back at a set time to bother finding another taxi. He is never late. Do you benefit from this? Sure. The Ikes passenger? Sure. Will some taxi drivers refuse to come back at a set time of fear of losing a juicy ride or a longer ride that may or may not come along? You bet.
- When he picks up or flies from the airport, Ike always finds a bit about his passenger. Is this his first time in town? How long has she been visiting? If Ike discovers that his passenger has come for business and has not had any time to see or experience the sights, he offers the passenger a 10-minute city center tour. With a view to highlights, a bit of history and a few stories, Ike has returned his passenger on the road with a true taste of the city he loves. Is it a gym to add to the meter for 10 minutes? With some cabbies it can be. But I have no passion and knowledge and eagerness to share it with its passengers. Will a friend do the same on your way out of town? Absolutely.
Let’s focus on the lessons for consultation. Feel free to compare these advice tips with the corresponding lessons of the taxi business above.
- Successful consultants distinguish each other both in form and in substance. Sales Trainee, Consultant and Author Jeffrey Gitomer uses a half-money coin with his image and contact information (and some smart slogans like In Sales We Trust) engraved as his business card. People don’t just remember it, they keep it and they show it to their friends. Your initial impression may be that he is successful, funny, creative and different from any other salesman wearing a nice suit and wearing a sharp white business card.
- Successful consultants are not good listeners. They are DEEP listeners. Good listeners use superficial tricks and techniques such as active listening and matching and mirroring. Deep listeners listen without agenda. Your listening focus should be on empathy, to feel literally with the client and to understand the issues surrounding the issues. It’s not a trick you learn to consult with school. It comes from your heart and your true interest in helping the customer improve their situation. Deep listening will help you understand the real value the client is looking for.
- Successful consultants are easy to do business. One of the world’s best consultants, Alan Weiss, says in his book Million Dollar Consulting, you have to spend money to earn money. Part of that money should be spent on things that will make you easy to do business. Some of these things are almost trivial to accept credit cards, an 800 number, etc. To have. And some of these things will be a great investment of time, effort, thought and energy. As you design a resource-rich web presence or store value-based fees, people worry about you and your expertise when you press and off the clock.
- Successful consultants are proactive and offer suggestions. Flexibility is a good source of power. So is forward movement. In consultation with large organizations, it is easy to fall into the fall of analysis paralysis. Especially with all the hype to get close to the customer. The danger to consultants getting too close to the customer is getting the same cold sand you brought in to save them! Keep moving and always offer options. It can be as simple as Plan A or B or C, but giving choices always increases collaboration and gives a sense of shared responsibility for outcomes. And it’s harder to say No when asked for Chocolate or Vanilla or Strawberry? Ideally, your customers will say Wow, they sound nice. Then you are able to make a recommendation based on your deep listening (See # 2!)
- Successful consultants work with passion, knowledge and eagerness to help. The irony of this is that the easier and easier the work for the consultant is, the greater the value it has for the client. For the consultant, the crossing of joy and business is called profit. Marketer, speaker and writer Seth Godin believes that in every business relationship, the sooner you ask for money, the less you will get. It has interesting implications for the consulting industry, where knowledge and expertise (and to some extent even discussion) have monetary value.
I believe in the concept of value first selling. In other words, you need to give customers valuable information and show them the resources they need, even before renting. You have to work to make prospects, Wow, this man is a gold mine. Imagine what we get if we really got it.
Now many sales and consulting experts call it spilling the candy into the lobby and they strongly recommend it. And I’ll guess if you only carry one bowl of candy. But without shaving, I can say it safely among the great consultants (people working at the crossroads of passion and knowledge and eagerness to help) were a real tuck shop and probably won’t soon run out with our gifts with Sharing customers is hungry for what we have to offer.
Want to help a friend with your knowledge and expertise? Sure you will. Perhaps customers are simply friends who pay your money? Think about it.
Beep, beep. Hop in!