Nobody Cares About Your Skills – REALLY
I was having my usual Nasi Lemak breakfast with one of my really good pals one morning. He is a decorated techie with all the CCIEs, CISSPs certification that you can fathom. In fact, I suspected that he collects those more of a perverted obsession rather than to make his manager happy for clocking another certification.
He started to ramble about the hottest certifications in the market and how it is going to “boost” his status in front of his clients and peers.
Then I realized something: Your skills don’t matter. So, yep, you heard me: your skills don’t matter. No one cares about your skills (except you, of course). “Hold on!” you protest. “My security skills are killer! And this is by far the best technology for…” Blah blah blah.
See? You’ve already fallen into the trap.
You could just as easily replace “security” for whatever your expertise is–whether it’s java programming or customized script writing. Sad truth is many intelligent people fall into that trap every day–and fails miserably because of it.
Your potential clients don’t care a hoot about your skills–they care about solving their problems, making their pain go away . Whether you’re targeting consumers or businesses, your prospects just want the end result.
But instead, many of us into the trap of thinking that our skills are important, the deal breaker, the life saver of the mega bid.
Think like a business owner–even if you’re an employee
I’d go even further and say that the same thing is true not just for entrepreneurs, consultants, and freelancers, but even if you like your job just fine or want to look for a new job.
Employers want problems solved, jobs done, and pain to go away, whether they’re buying a product or service, or hiring their next employee. Sure, big companies and HR people have to scan resumes to make sure you have particular experience, but they ultimately want problems solved, not just a warm body who typed the right keywords on their resume.
Now, obviously, skills do matter, but we need to view them as tools, not the end product.
The biggest reason we wrongly believe that our skills are the end product is because we’re taught to think like an employee, where we build our resume around our skills. This is particularly true for techie, where we like to collect a huge list of acronyms, languages, and technologies that we’ve used (HTML, Java, .NET, etc.), then proudly tout them on our resumes.
If you spend your time trying to convince a potential customer why they’ve GOT to have your products and services or what-have-you, their eyes will glaze over, and they’ll dread talking to you ever again. Try it and see how fast you fail.
Ever had your pitch cut short by an “emergency” call? Thought so.
Stop making yourself a commodity (and the secret to creating value)
If you focus solely on your skills, you’ll end up stuck in commoditized markets where you’ll compete with thousands of people around the globe, many of whom are eager to work for less than your typical pimply-faced teenager at Macdonald.
Care to argue the point? Spend 60 seconds on ODesk trolling for jobs requiring your skills.
I bet you a cup of cappuccino that half the people charge less than $20 an hour–which will likely get negotiated down a bit.
And therein lays the key: clients will happily pay for their problems to go away.
If you do that, your prospects will be on the edge of their seat listening to you describe how those problems will go the way By focusing their most pressing problems, you’ll not only have an easier time selling to them, but you’ll be able to charge a much higher rate.
Of course, you can still try to wear down prospects with your Python enthusiasm–let me know if that ever works for you.
Or, you can focus on your prospects’ biggest problems and how you’ll make their pain disappear. And that’s what really matters.