Momentum Podcast: 212
Your Baby Is Ugly
by Alex Charfen
In business today, there are far too many consultants and coaches that won’t tell you when you’re heading off a cliff. They won’t tell you your baby is ugly. If you’re trying to sell something or attract clients that aren’t coming, you need someone who will give you the truth and nothing else.
Full Audio Transcript
I'm Alex Charfen and this is the Momentum Podcast made for empire builders, game changers, trail blazers, shot takes, record breakers, world makers, and creators of all kinds, those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution. Sure we pay attention to their rules but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will. We don't accept our destiny, we define it. We don't understand defeat because you only lose if you stop and we don't know how.
While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo we are the minority, the few who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future and instead of just day dreaming of what could be we enjoy the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters, clearly the most important people in the world because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive human evolution and we always will be.
You baby is ugly. This is not a statement I would ever make to a human being standing in front of me with a baby but there was a day where I heard, "Your baby is ugly," in a totally different way and I want to share it with you because I think there's a problem in the coaching and consulting industry today. I think there are far too many coaches who won't tell you when you are headed off a cliff, I think there's far too many consultants that won't tell you when you're making a mistake because they just want to take your money. The fact is that if you're creating product, if you're creating something that you're going to sell you need someone to tell you when your baby is ugly.
Let me tell you where this originates from and why I was thinking about it today. In my life as a consultant in my 20s I used to have to take manufacturers of products in to meet with different companies, we would meet with Walmart and Radio Shack and Tiger Direct and Top Tech Data and Ingram Micro and huge organizations. One of the organizations we would meet with is a company called BrandsMart USA in South Florida so for all my South Florida listeners you know exactly who I'm talking about because if you live in South Florida you have to know BrandsMart.
BrandsMart is this electronics chain, I think they have three stores they got up to seven at one point, but they have three stores, they're 90,000 square feet, they're huge, they do over $100,000,000 per store. To give you an idea that's like four or five times what a Best Buy will do so they're just this insane chain that sells a ton of product. Back when I used to work with them one of the VP's of merchandising was a guy named Randy Johnson. I had an appointment one day with Randy with a new manufacturer. I can remember at breakfast we were talking about what the manufacturer had and we were strategizing about how we were gonna go into this meeting with Randy Johnson and try and sell him the products that his company had and I think we had like fans and alarms and I don't remember what else.
At breakfast the person from the manufacturer told me how they're were gonna go to Randy and they had this whole demo they were gonna do and it was kinda like a skit and they were gonna present it in this really odd way and they wanted to like have a joke at the end. It literally was like a kids play type demo and I remember telling her like listen, this is BrandsMart, they don't screw around. They want you in and they want you out. We're gonna have maybe 15 minutes in this meeting, we don't have a lot of time to mess around. Let's go in there, find out what Randy's doing in these categories, then figure out where we see an opportunity and then where you have a strategic advantage let's show him that strategic advantage but let's not go in there like guns blazing with a demo.
We talked for a while at breakfast and we came to the conclusion we would go to the meeting with Randy, we would go in, we would find out what was going on the category with him, ask him a few questions, see if he would let us know if there was any deficits or issues that he was dealing with and then see if there was an opportunity for us because that's really the right way to sell an account especially with the relationship I had with BrandsMart, like they would share stuff with me, they would tell me things. We drove over to BrandsMart, we went into the waiting area, we got called into the meeting with Randy, and just so you understand Randy and BrandsMart Randy was probably responsible for buying over $100,000,000 worth of goods a year, he had a massive pen, he could write big checks.
Randy was also a big dude, he was probably about 400 or 500 pounds, he had a hard time breathing, it was kind of uncomfortable to have a meeting with him because he had such like serious sleep apnea that every once in a while he would just nod off for a second while you were talking to him, I'm not kidding. Randy was imposing, he had a big voice, big southern voice. He had kind of booming, large dude, and we walked in and Randy looked at the person from the factory and he said, "I don't think I'm gonna buy anything from you," and I was like ah crap, Randy's messing with her already. You know he had this habit of giving people a hard time. I don't know what happened but somewhere in between the morning conversation where we weren't gonna do her crazy skit and Randy saying, "I don't think I'm gonna buy anything from you," somehow triggered her into going into the totally like awkward and goofy like sketch that she had talked about at breakfast.
I remember, like we were standing there shaking hands with Randy on the other side of his desk, as soon as I had sat down I looked to my side and she was off and running on this whole skit presentation thing. I sat there and watched Randy's face turn from the normal color red it always was to a deeper, darker color of red as she kept going and she kept going and she kept going with this weird skit thing. Then at the end of the skit she had this presentation of her products and she like went into it and showed it to him and Randy say, "Why don't you just take a seat right there next to Alex?" I'm doing my best southern accent.
I remember Randy saying, "Ma'am, around here southern hospitality means a lot but I have something I need to tell you and it's gonna be one of the most important things anyone has told you," I'm terrible at a southern accent can you tell? But I remember this like it was yesterday, Randy looked right at her and said, "Your baby is ugly," and I remember thinking holy crap, like man this is mean. Then he went on and he said, "Now I want you to know something, I'm not telling you that to be rude or mean or unkind but what I want you to know is you can't come into an account like this, where we've been buying these types of products as long as we have, go into a little song and dance, and think that's it's gonna differentiate your products in anyway. In fact from what you've already showed us you made a mistake on your product line as a whole. This is the one place in the world where we will tell you your baby is ugly."
I remember Randy saying something like you know when you crowd around a cradle and everybody crowds around a cradle and everybody's oohing and awing over a baby and they're saying how cute it is even when it's not? And the person I was with said, "Uh-huh," and Randy said, "Well we don't do that here because if we buy your ugly baby and we put it on a shelf it's never going to sell and then it'll go back to you and we're not doing you a favor, we're hurting you if we tell you your baby is not ugly when it is."
Here's why I share this, because in the market today, in business today, there are far too many coaches and consultants and people out there that somewhere in the sales process will lead you to believe that what you're trying to do is a good idea just so they can get your business and what they won't tell you is your baby is ugly. I was on a sales call yesterday with a woman who was explaining some of the issues that she was having and some of the solutions she was using and on a sales call I will tell somebody, "I gotta tell you, that solution sucks."
She brought up a book that I sell again, it's called Traction by Gino Wickman and it has this system in it called the EOS which is a decent system if you want to be trapped in your business and end up doing most of the work, operating through one assistant, and trying to figure out who your team is. It's a really challenging system. I told her right away hey you know if that's what you're doing I want you to know like it's a challenge and it's an issue and it's gonna hurt you and it's gonna trap you. I don't pull punches on these calls because here's what I want you to know, as a coach I will always tell you when your baby's ugly.
If one of my clients calls me or contacts me and says, "Here's the idea I have," and I think it's a terrible idea I will say, "I think that's a terrible idea," and then I'll tell them why. Because when it comes to spending your money, spending your time, creating your future, and building the business that you want to own you have to have someone to tell you your baby is ugly and these days far too often coaches and consultants just continue to encourage and tell people to go forward and tell people they're gonna win and tell people they're gonna be okay. The challenge is that I talk to people all the time who have spend thousands, sometimes tens of thousands, sometimes more than six figures on coaching and they've never created any progress. Why? Because they're selling a product that doesn't have an avatar, they don't understand who they're really serving, it isn't clear what solution they create, and let's be really honest their baby is ugly and nobody has been willing to tell them.
You know I remember about a year and a half ago I was teaching a course and a woman said, "You know I've spent like $90,000, I haven't been successful, I don't understand why." And I said, "Okay, well why don't you share with us what you're doing?" And I remember he saying, "Well my mission is to empower women who feel like they have been working for everyone else and now they want to work for themselves and you know they feel like everybody else is taking from them and now they're at that point in their life where they want to get their lives back and do what they want to do," and I said great, how do you find those women? Who are they? How do you approach them? What indicators do they have? What avatar are they?
If we go out and we find a whole group of women like that they're gonna be in different socioeconomic classes, they're gonna be all over the place, there's no commonality other than they feel a lot of things that let's be honest are just part of the universal human dynamic. If you don't differentiate further than that you are going to starve. I remember, and I said it aggressively and I remember saying, "I wanted you to know I'm sorry, I don't mean to be aggressive," and she said, "Are you kidding me? I've needed somebody to tell me this stuff for years. How do I make it better, how do I fix it, how do I go help people?
With that woman in particular we sat down and we realized she really had a much tighter avatar, she was working with moms who had businesses who didn't have enough time, who's kids were usually in school during the day, who had to have really tight schedules, who needed to know exactly what they had to get done, who had time to grow a business but didn't have unlimited time. We started creating an avatar and by the end of the day she knew exactly how to go out and find the people she could work with because it was no longer ambiguous and it was no longer unclear who she really wanted to work with.
In today's day and age if you're trying to sell something online, if you're trying to attract clients and they're not coming you might need a coach who's willing to tell you you have a problem. While in real life I think every baby is absolutely adorable, no matter what, the fact is there's a lot of you who created some ugly babies when it comes to product. If you don't have your avatar lined up to buy it, if you don't have clarity around where to find them, if your avatar isn't getting a consistent result and you aren't creating an effect then you probably don't have a good product and someone should tell you.
These days it's hard to get honest feedback from anyone but if you're not making the progress you want I want you to at least leave open the fact that you may be selling a product that doesn't really have a home. You may be chasing an avatar that doesn't understand that you are chasing them and you might have a solution that's so ambiguous and vague it doesn't really reach anyone in specific. If your baby's ugly tighten things up, focus on an avatar, go back to the podcast I did called Own Your Avatar, and you will see everything change.
After that meeting with Randy Johnson, the fan and alarm manufacturer that I had, they actually left South Florida shaken, the woman, there was two of them. The woman that was with us who did the demo on the way out of BrandsMart she was actually crying. In the car we had to have this long discussion about like how she slipped into the pitch that she had, she was thrown off by Randy at the very beginning, the meeting did not improve it only got worse. We left, we didn't have anything, but to their credit we came back about three and a half months later, they had listened to what Randy said in the first meeting, we did an entirely different type of presentation, and within about six months after that BrandsMart took on their product and started selling on a daily basis and it became one of the staples in their line that I believe they still carry today and it all started with Randy telling the manufacturer their baby was ugly.
In business sometimes the harshest thing we hear is exactly what we need to hear. If you haven't yet download a copy of my book, go to freemomentumbook.com download a copy of the entrepreneurial personality type that's been optimized for mobile, ready to read right now, it takes about 45 minutes to an hour to read it, and the feedback I get most often from entrepreneurs is that that tiny little book, less than 10,000 words told them more about themselves than anyone ever has. Aren't you curious? Freemomentumbook.com.