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Book Summary – Getting Naked: A Business Fable about Shedding the Three Fears That Sabotage Client Loyalty

Getting Naked by Patrick Lencioni is a book is about overcoming our fears of vulnerability, so we can build stronger and more lasting relationships with our clients, win their loyalty and convert them into our ambassadors. The insights are especially useful for service providers, consultants and advisors who serve internal or external clients. In this free Getting Naked summary, you’ll learn about the “naked service model” to build deep, lasting relationships with your clients.

What is the book “Getting Naked” about?

Consultants, advisors and service providers often think that they must appear strong, assured and in control to gain their clients’ confidence. In this book, Patrick Lencioni explains why this is untrue. A better way to win clients’ trust and loyalty is through transparency and vulnerability.

The book is organized into 2 parts: a fable and a service model.

• Using a fable about 2 management consulting firms, Patrick Lencioni illustrates the 3 fears that hinder client trust and loyalty. These are: fear of losing the business, fear of being embarrassed and fear of feeling inferior.

• Lencioni then explains the “naked service model” with specific principles for overcoming these 3 fears. This model is built upon vulnerability—the ability to embrace humility, transparency and selflessness for the good for the client. In this Getting Naked summary, we’ll outline the story before explaining the model.

Getting Naked summary - client loyalty overview

An Outline of the “Getting Naked” Business Fable

The fable is about 2 management consulting firms—a boutique consulting firm (Lighthouse Partners), and a large established consulting firm (Kendrick and Black, or “K&B” for short). The story opens with K&B acquiring Lighthouse Partners, and Jack Bauer (the main character) being tasked to recommend how to integrate Lighthouse into K&B.

Lighthouse is much smaller than K&B, focuses mainly on local clients, and none of its partners even hold a post-graduate degree. Yet, each time Lighthouse competes directly with K&B for a project, Lighthouse always emerges the winner.

Jack is a senior consultant and the head of sales for strategy practice at K&B. Like most of his colleagues at K&B, he looks down on Lighthouse, considering it a less professional and less prestigious firm. But to his shock, he soon discovers that Lighthouse hasn’t just been winning over K&B’s clients. They’ve also been charging higher fees than K&B, and making 3-5% more profits per client compared to K&B.

To understand Lighthouse’s success secret, Jack is forced to set aside his ego and genuinely observe what’s going on at the former-rival firm. The story follows his discoveries as he immerses himself in their business operations, follows the 3 Lighthouse partners on their sales calls, client meetings and consultations.

Before long, Jack realizes that Lighthouse is operating on a fundamentally different set of principles from K&B—principles that lead their clients to truly love their service and actively refer new business to them. He grows to respect their open, candid approach with their clients and even tries to apply the insights to his own work.

Finally, it’s time for Jack to present his findings to his bosses at K&B. He consolidates his insights into a success model (the “Naked Service Model”) outlined below.

Getting Naked: Overcoming 3 Fears

The Naked Service Model is about “getting naked”, or being totally vulnerable, honest and transparent with your clients. You gain your clients’ loyalty when they believe they can trust you to act in their interests. However, to do so, you must first address 3 fears that hinder vulnerability.

What Are The Three Fears?

Fear of Losing the Business

No business or service provider wants to lose their clients. Ironically, the more you fear losing a client, the more likely you’ll actually lose the business. That’s because clients can sense when you’re fearful, desperate, and if you’re out to close a sale or upsell a service. This repels them and puts them on their guard.

Instead, clients are drawn to those who are honest and transparent with them. They want to know that you’re more interested in helping them to solve their problems and achieve their goals, than to increase your revenue.

Fear of Being Embarrassed

Nobody likes to make mistakes in public, especially in front of people who’re paying for their expertise or advice. This can become an issue if your intellectual ego interferes with your ability to serve your client. To avoid looking incompetent, ignorant or stupid, we pretend to know more than we do. We hold back questions, inputs or suggestions so we don’t risk saying the wrong things.

The truth is, clients don’t care how smart you are. They’re only interested in solving their problems, and they value consultants or service providers who won’t hold back on their observations, suggestions or concerns just to save face or look good.

Fear of Feeling Inferior

Besides protecting our intellectual pride, we also want to preserve a certain level of status or standing with our clients. Ironically, the best way to earn your clients’ respect or admiration is to show your willingness to humble yourself and occasionally lower your position in their service.

Clients appreciate consultants or service providers who are willing to temporarily put themselves in an inferior position just to advance the client’s interests or goals.

Here’s a visual summary of the 3 fears and their respective antidotes:Getting Naked summary - overcoming the 3 fears

Overcoming the Three Fears

To overcome the fear of losing the business:
• Don’t sell them what you’ll do if you’re hired. Just start serving or consulting with them right away.
• This means that you actually give away your business initially. Show that you’re more interested to build a long-term relationship than to maximize your short-term revenue.
• Have the courage to tell your clients the hard truth, even if it’s something they may not like.
• If something is wrong, dare to call out the issue and bravely step forward to address it.

To overcome the fear of being embarrassed:
• Don’t be afraid to ask dumb questions for fear of appearing ignorant or stupid.
• Don’t hesitate to make dumb suggestions or share ideas that you aren’t sure about.
• Admit, apologize and take responsibility for your mistakes.

To overcome the fear of feeling inferior:
• Take a bullet for the client (or help them shoulder the burden during difficult times).
• Make it all about the client (not your own achievements).
• Honor the client’s work by expressing your respect and enthusiasm for what they do.
• Do the dirty work if necessary.

In our complete Getting Naked summary, we’ll break down each of the solutions, with short examples to illustrate the principles or practices.

Getting More from the book “Getting Naked”

In order to thrive, every business needs to build trust and loyalty with its clients. If you’re ready to start getting naked with your clients, do check out the our full book summary bundle that includes an infographic, 10-page text summary, and a 23-minute audio summary.

Getting Naked summary - Book Summary Bundle

The fable in the book includes many nuances and details to illustrate why conventional approaches to sales/client services are sub-optimal, and how the naked service model can address the 3 fears that obstruct real openness and trust. You can purchase the book here or visit www.tablegroup.com for more details and resources.

Loved this article? Then do also check out these other titles by Patrick Lencioni: The Advantage, The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive, and Death by Meeting.

About the author of Getting Naked

Getting Naked: A Business Fable about Shedding the Three Fears That Sabotage Client Loyalty was written by Patrick Lencioni–an American author and consultant, best known for his works in business and team management. Patrick Lencioni is the president of The Table Group, a management consulting firm specializing in executive team development and organizational health. Previously, he worked at the management consulting firm Bain & Company, Oracle Corporation, and Sybase, where he was VP of Organization Development.

Getting Naked Quotes

“[Vulnerability] is one of the most undervalued and misunderstood of all human qualities.”

“At its core, naked service boils down to the ability of a service provider to be vulnerable—to embrace uncommon levels of humility, selflessness, and transparency for the good of a client.”

“There is nothing more attractive and admirable than people who willingly and cheerfully set their egos aside and make the needs of others more important than their own.”

“Having a bad client is worse than having none.”

“Without taking the risk of putting an idea out there, the good ideas will never see the light of day.”

“It’s all about standing there naked in front of the client. It’s about building trust.”

Click here to download the Getting Naked summary & infographic

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