Doctor. Or Pizza Delivery Dude. Which Are You?

When it comes to working with new or existing clients, which are you:

(A.) The doctor; or

(B.) The pizza delivery dude?

Here’s what I mean.

It’s Sunday afternoon. You’re watching the NFL playoffs with your family and everyone is hungry. So, you pick up the phone and call your favorite local pizza delivery place. You order two large pizzas: one with anchovies and pineapple and the other with ham and mushrooms.

The young man taking your order asks for your address, calculates your total, and gets your credit card number. Forty minutes later, your two pizzas arrive at your front door. Hot. Fast. Cheap.

What the pizza guy probably didn’t do during your phone call is question your order. You’re the customer, so you call the shots. And hey, if you want to eat pineapple and anchovies on your pizza, that’s your business!

Now, let’s contrast that with seeing the doctor. You’ve been suffering with a sore throat for three straight days. It’s excruciating to swallow, and you have a fever. So you make an appointment and see your family physician.

Before she can barely get in a “hello,” you start talking. You tell her all about your symptoms and then inform her you would like an appendectomy as quickly as possible. You ask her how soon she can get your appendix out and how much it’s going to cost, and if she can put that into a proposal and email that over to you by the end of the day, that would be great.

You then hop down off the table and start to head out the door.

At this point, your doctor is looking rather perplexed. But she’s nice about it, and simply chalks it up to your high fever.

She grabs your arm, and gently guides you back up onto the exam table.

“Well, hold on. Now, let’s slow down here just a minute,” she says. “Let me ask you a few questions and get some vitals before jumping right into the idea of taking out that appendix of yours to treat your sore throat, shall we?”

And sure enough — after a thorough evaluation, she decides that it would probably be better to take out your tonsils in this case versus something anywhere near your abdomen.

Now, let’s think about which approach YOU take when a new or existing client tells you they want to hire you to do X, Y or Z for them.

Do you react more like the pizza delivery guy? Do you take their order, whip out your calculator, give the client an estimate when they ask for it and, assuming they say “yes,” hop in the kitchen and bake up a pineapple and anchovies pizza…. because that’s what they asked for?

OR… do you ask the client lots (and lots) of questions (and verifying questions) about their challenges and goals? Do you ask them to share data or share real-life examples to make sure what they are telling you actually makes sense? Do you make recommendations based on all your years of experience and professional training?

Do you even go so far as refusing to figuratively take out a client’s appendix if they have a sore throat?

In working with small business owners for the last seven years, the truth is, I see a lot more pizza delivery guys than I see doctors.

Why? Because many small business owners are afraid to lose out on an opportunity if they put on that white lab coat, take control of the conversation and LEAD the client to the right solution based on their symptoms.

Many others simply get comfortable with their existing clients — or they get caught off guard — and without realizing it, they take off the lab coat and put they pizza delivery uniform on. (I caught myself in this trap just a couple of months ago.)

But here’s the thing. It’s the “doctor” who ultimately becomes the client’s trusted, indispensible, high-paid expert, not the pizza guy.

Some food for thought.  Now,… pass me a slice of that anchovies and pineapple pizza!