April 17, 2015 // By Magenic
As a consultant, your broad experience with many projects and many customers gives you a different perspective than many full-time employees have. You have seen companies that seem to work like a well-oiled machine as well as some where you have to constantly dodge the small fires that seem to spring out of thin air. This can lead to the “it depends” view of processes and business problems. You can easily lose customers taking that approach, as it makes them think that you can’t commit or be reductive enough to make decisions. In this case we do ourselves a disservice as consultants as it diminishes the trust that our clients have in us. All of that hard-earned experience is immediately discounted and replaced with doubt.
I have found that it is better to talk about the input factors and how they can effect the outcome rather than ever saying it depends. Lay out a plan and your expected result to make the customer feel like you have a handle on the situation.
Imagine going to the doctor. If you were told “wow, there could be a lot of things wrong, we will do some tests.” How would you feel? This is like the hypochondria that comes from Googling symptoms. What you want to hear are the most likely outcomes and the path to determining which is the root cause.
This is especially important in the sales process as customers are building their relationship with you and they need to know that you have a firm grasp on their challenges. At this point in the process, you generally have your most senior architects involved as you want to put the best talent in front of the customer to establish credibility and help them make the right decision as you’ll have to live with it for the life of the engagement. A customer might ask which of a few different data mocking frameworks they should be using, but the deep understanding of the minute differences between them makes us want to say “it depends” and then give a litany of reasons for our indecision.
Instead, explaining the process that you will take to choose the correct one is the better choice. You can lay out a plan, the inputs needed, and how much effort it will take to get there. Simply turning the communication around to show what you can do and how that deep expertise will help them through the decision is a much better path to a win.
This is the real Consulting Answer.
Ryan Hanisco is a General Manager at Magenic. This is republished from his blog and can be found here. To learn about custom application development and consulting from Magenic, email us or give us a call at 877-277-1044.