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The Most Valuable Skill in Business


There’s that person in your life. The friend or family member you only see occasionally and briefly but when you do, you really connect. You leave every interaction with her with a sense of fondness or love that is wholly disproportionate to the amount of time invested in the relationship.

A little while after your conversations, while still basking in the glow of this special relationship, you realize that you learned almost nothing new about her. You are slightly embarrassed to recall that you spent the entire conversation talking about you—not because that was your intent but because she lasered in on you, asked how you were, what you were up to. And the more you talked, the more interested she seemed to become. She made you feel that there was nowhere else she would rather be, nobody else she would rather be speaking to.

Now take that skill your friend has and transpose it into a business context. What do you have? You have what I believe is the most valuable skill in all of business. The business equivalent of what your friend or family member so effortlessly and beautifully does is called the value conversation, and it is at the heart of value-based pricing and any form of respectful selling.

The goal of value-based pricing is not to charge more—that’s merely a beneficial consequence. The goal of value-based pricing is to create an organization that is intently focused on creating extraordinary customer value. That means developing in your frontline people that same skill that your friend has: the ability to have a conversation with a client and have the entire focus of the conversation be on her. What does she want? What is valuable to her? What is she willing to pay for?

At no point in your conversation with your friend did she interject her stories to mesh with, build on, or refute yours. She didn’t bend the conversation to a topic that’s been on her mind. She didn’t try to communicate anything to you, other than the message that in that moment, you were the only thing that mattered.

What does it mean to do new business in your firm? How close or far are you from the ideal that your friend represents?

PS: If you would like to learn how to develop this skill, join me November 6 & 7 in Scottsdale, AZ.