I want help…I don’t want help.

The latest entrepreneurial story started at 9:30 AM, Saturday, 6/14 with this email:

Happy (grand)Fathers Day Weekend!~ Hope your up in God’s Country enjoying. I can see the light…I am in need of some of your expertises and or some other sense of my options of “driving” my business. The post that made me think was: BootStrap Entrepreneur and if I am in the same boat as other clutter minded sm business owners this post really got me thinking… what if Rick is on 2 something..for me and other small business entrepreneurs that can use the help. Even though I need an expert in Sales I think that the question that I had to ask myself made clear sense to me… Is the person that is running my core business a salesman like myself? The clear answer is no , and I don’t consider myself a good salesman…I just believe in what we do and that has worked up until NOW. As always we have a bunch of irons in the fire, some are going to break soon…

We met for about two hours, exchanged a couple of emails and telephone conversations which resulted in a plan that gave him what he wanted. I sent the plan at 6:24 AM on Friday 7/18. It ended with the following:

You have three choices. Reply with, “OK, let’s get going. I’m in for Phase 1.” You and Mike Thornton will need to have a five minute conversation to get a credit card to charge the monthly payments to and the information required to set up your evaluation. He’ll then send you a link to take your evaluation. You’ll take it and we’ll have your results within 2 business days. Then I’ll design your program and we’ll be moving. Reply with, “No, thanks.” I’ll never mention it or bother you again. Do nothing. I’ll retract my offer at close of business, Monday and never mention it or bother you again.

At 6:06 AM this morning, I received the following email.

Good Morning Rick, By the tone of this email and your three choices & assuming that these correspondences “bother” me, I will not be needing your services. Regards,

Every entrepreneur that I’ve ever met has said that they believe in what they do. That’s the secret. They all want help, but don’t want to change and when somebody like me has the balls to tell them that they are the problem, they usually get offended. The ones that get over it get help and double or triple their business. This guy said that he doesn’t “need” my services…I think that he doesn’t “want” my services. What he was hoping is that I wouldn’t challenge him, wouldn’t make him feel uncomfortable, and that I’d tell him that it’s not his fault. I realized something during this exchange. When I did collections, I sold my services to my clients but delivery was to debtors. I didn’t have to like anybody because I didn’t spend much time with anybody, debtors or clients. When I take on a new client, I’m gonna spend considerable time with them. If they’re argumentative, uncooperative, egotistical jerks, why would I want to spend any time with them at all? Bad enough, I have to be with myself!

10 thoughts on “I want help…I don’t want help.

  1. Maybe they’re offended by the WAY you tell them they’re the problem. It’s not about having the balls, it’s about treating people with respect. Many of us know that you’re not for everyone, and that’s ok. Maybe you know your market, and that’s enough for you. But if you changed, you could sell more, too.

  2. This is quintessential Rick. When I’m about to introduce a struggling small business owner or entrepreneur to you – who NEEDS what you do – I run them through the “are they willing to change” filter. Sometimes, I tell them that you are going to make them uncomfortable and ask them if that’s ok with them. Their response usually tells me whether it’s worth introducing you or whether it’ll be a waste of your time. (Sometimes I do it anyways because them getting pissed off is what they need.) It’s taken me awhile to figure this out. But, it’s worth it. The entrepreneurs that you do work with – who are willing to reflect on what they do, remove their ego blockade from the road of success and constantly improve – have succeeded amazingly under your tutelage. It’s unfortunate, this guy (or gal) (and a few others I know) didn’t have the wherewithal to see that their gut response to your directness is most likely the root cause of their failures (or their mediocrity). I look forward to pointing individuals to this post.

  3. Dave Kurlan sent me this private comment: Just wondering, but was he already giving you trouble when you sent the Friday email with the 3 choices? If he was giving you trouble, I totally understand that email. If he wasn’t already giving you trouble, my sense is that your Friday email would have caused him to be upset…

  4. You wrote a post a while back about entrepreneurs and the need to ask for help in order to succeed. Very good post – and very good comments. One in particular – from Mike Egan – resonated with me. He said that in his experience (both as CEO of Bay State Abrasives and in years and years and years of working with entrepreneurs), the ones who succeed are those who have an advisor or coach, and those that don’t succeed generally never ask for help. Being an entrepreneur is scary enough that it’s all the risk some people are willing to take. Asking for someone to criticize what they’re doing (and paying for that criticism) is just too much. It’s human nature – we are all where we are, and we’ll move forward when we’re ready (or not). Best to learn from stories like this. AND to Jason’s point – to find someone whose style you can work with. Rick’s style can, on rare occasions, be just a tiny bit abrasive. If one finds that uncomfortable, find someone who’s a better fit. But don’t use that style as an excuse to avoid asking for, and getting, help. Because (back to Mike Egan) – if you really want to succeed, you’ll do what it takes to get you there.

  5. I don’t understand why it is abrasive to simply put a deadline on a decision or provide someone with definite options one way or the other.Ultimately the person was “bothered” because they were being asked for a yes or no. Too often entrepeneurs have become accustomed to “tire kicking” and “window shopping” and when someone actually pushes for closure they blame the style. My experience has been that people who don’t decide to go with my help, usually never decide to go with anyone for help!

  6. I like what John (the archaelogist) is saying. I have pissed off a handful of prospects by pushing them to a close. And many SMB owners just don’t make decisions, don’t plan and don’t want to change. And never will. So, why waste your time, right? But, I often wonder whether the people I pissed off were ready. Whether their pain was painful enough. I’ve watched your son, Mark Roberge, close deals like this by being more patient, closing via the phone, just by reiterating the pain, re-presenting the solution and turning objections into reasons to act. He only went in for the close after that was done thoroughly, long after I probably would have given up. I’m wondering whether the last part of your email would have been better done by phone? Did he agree to make a decision after you sent the email? Would a different approach, confirming 1st, 2nd and 3rd base status would have have resulted in a different outcome? You might have been satisfied that he should act and that you handled any objections. But, maybe he wasn’t? All that said, this is this guy’s problem. Not Rick’s. I just got done watching Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmare’s where an owner refused to change. His ego was in the way. And he was afraid to destroy the very little progress he had made. In the middle of the show, the owner realized that Gordon Ramsay was right when he told him that “he [the owner] was the f&*^%ing problem”. At the end of the show, the Mayor was giving the owner the keys to the city. If they owner didn’t take Gordon’s advice and make the hard changes he needed to make, he would have failed, lost the 500k he invested, lost his home and probably his marriage. Rick, like Gordon Ramsay, helps people save their businesses, lives and achieve their dreams.

  7. OK – My turn.I know Rick well enough that when I read the email he sent to his prospect, I was able to hear his tone of voice and fully understand the listing of the three choices.I also expect that someone who hasn’t had the benefit of spending as much time with Rick could read that email without benefit of tonality, and reach the conclusion that Rick was impatient, abrasive, and frustrated.In that scenario, I may have given Rick the same response and lost out on the benefits I’ve received over the last 18 months or so.

  8. Rick you told me this would be a good post and so far it looks to be true.I was turned off by the 3 coices and I won’t bother you again. I know I need sales support and unfortunately I am not able to make a descision based your offer. This does not mean that you couldn’t have helped me as I am sure you could. It only means that I have a better offer with someone who I think understands our succcesses to date and took the time to understand me in the building process. I am like Gordan Ramsey, I find out the hot buttons and develop a plan of attack .vs. attack the plan. In the case of the struggling restaurantuer he needed help because he was failing. I on the other hand am stuggling but with the right mentor will have continued success.

  9. As I preach, I have advisors that I consult. I asked Dave Kurlan if/how he would reply to this comment. This is his response.
    Hi Rick,
    My reply would be:
    I too would find Rick’s response problematic if I had not provided him with a reason to send that message in the first place.  But if I had been indecisive, vague, dishonest, frustrating, or time-consuming, (and I’m not suggesting that you were any of those things) I might have it coming!
    That said, if his message was directed specifically at you and you found it offensive, then you are probably guilty as charged!  People only get upset when they’re guilty of what they’re accused of.
    Rick’s clients love him.  They love his nurturing and encouragement as much as they hate, but appreciate his brutal honesty and, let’s face it, without brutal honesty, we simply won’t change. 
    So the two real issues are, if you are truly committed to change (for the better) for the sake of improving your revenue, your life balance, your income, your peace of mind, your pride and ultimately the value of your business, can you handle the brutal honesty it will take from an expert to help you get there.  If you pick an expert to help you because they understand your successes (it should be your challenges) and because they’re easy on you (they should challenge you) you’ll end up paying for a friend.
    If you pick an expert that has already helped others do what you need to do, you’re investing in your future success.

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