The man who loved to help too much

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A consultant I’ve known a very long time analyzes specialized data. At the end of the day, what this guy really sells is “needles in haystacks.” He finds those needles for his clients.

I’ve known him so long, and rubbed shoulders with him so many times, I was tempted to assume he “knows everything I know.” (ALL of us succumb to that temptation. It’s not true AT ALL. The very familiar people around you do NOT know what you know. Not even close. Especially if you’ve been sharpening your saw for a long time.)

Early this year he joined Roundtable and kicked off his membership with a 4-Man Intensive. He brought his sales manager with him, and we started peeling the layers of the onion.

I quickly discovered his #1 problem is:

He LOVES to help people. LOVES to solve clients’ problems. Loves to apply his knowledge, experience, and insight.

He hates to say no.

So much that he over-delivers and under-charges. Chronically.

I relate. I’m tempted to do that all the time, myself. (More about that in a minute.)

A moment came in the 4-Man where the picture snapped in place. I was able to see what was really going on. I gave him a stern lecture:

“OK, Mister. I am going to give you some new rules. From now on you are to abide by these rules with every new client you get…”

I went on to describe how his sales manager is going to be his gatekeeper 100% of the time. Nobody gets to him without paying. He’s going to charge extra for every additional service he renders, and make sure his clients understand the full value of what they’re getting (that’s another BIG one).

His sales manager was so excited, if she’d been a puppy, she’d have been jumping up and down licking my face. She KNEW he needed all of this in place, but she didn’t know how to explain it to him, let alone enforce it.

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That was four months ago.

I just talked to him on Wednesday. Business is up 400% over this time last year.

This is VERY typical of Planet Perry people. Truth be told, most of us are more interested in being of service to others, celebrating our professional geek-dom, and getting something accomplished than we are in extracting every last dollar from the marketplace.

It’s one of the reason our private Mastermind forum is such an awesome place to tap people for advice. There’s a tremendous level of generosity. (It might be the best private forum in the entire online marketing space.)

This also comes from always wanting to prove ourselves. Many of us somehow believe that if we do enough good in the world, some magic fairy will wave a magic wand over us and we’ll suddenly know that we’re earning the space we take up on planet earth.

(Good luck waiting for that to happen.)

When you run a business, when you have employees, when you service customers and clients, you can’t afford to be too generous. There’s always some idealist who loves to prattle on about how you can never be too generous in business. But he’s got nothing but lint in his pockets and he had to borrow money from his grandma to go to another Tony Robbins seminar.

You CAN be too generous. It keeps you small and obscure. You get small clients instead of big clients because you charge small fees instead of big fees.

This is a virtuous problem to have, but it’s still a problem.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

1) Assert your value

2) Charge what you’re worth

3) Move up the food chain

4) Expand your borders

Perry Marshall

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About the Author

Perry Marshall has launched two revolutions in sales and marketing. In Pay-Per-Click advertising, he pioneered best practices and wrote the world's best selling book on Google advertising. And he's driven the 80/20 Principle deeper than any other author, creating a new movement in business.

He is referenced across the Internet and by Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, INC and Forbes Magazine.

2 Comments on “The man who loved to help too much”

  1. Great post, describes how I used to be dead on. I’m not where I need to be yet, but I’m on the road – with a huge kick in the a** coming this weekend at the Summit. Can’t wait.

    Jamie’s comment above is excellent as well – I’d never thought about it that way.

    The thing that snapped me out of it and opened my eyes was realizing how my giving and helping impacted my family.

    I spend quite a bit of time with my kids, but my wife always gets the short end of the stick, going to be alone as I worked until 1 or 2 every night to “catch up.”

    The day that I realized that I’d help a stranger even when it meant that the extra time that took came directly out of time I should have for my loving, supportive wife…things started to change!


    P.S. Perry, you are wrong about one thing. You said that the mastermind forum “might” be the best private forum. Nope. It is absolutely, beyond a shadow of a doubt the best – and a bargain at 5 times the price.

  2. Well said. Every time I’m starting a new venture, and I’m having a whole lot of fun, I have the tendency to undercharge. I have to play “time warp,” where I sit back and imagine myself in a year or so, slightly burned out and unable to afford to delegate any tasks. Always helps me come to my senses.

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