As I continue moving deeper into the expanding world of Revit I am finding myself in front of new types of clients on a regular basis. While I welcome these new opportunities I have become a bit sensitive when it comes to launching into a sales pitch. There are not too many ways to politely ask a potential client, “Just how much do you actually know about this stuff?” without looking like a jerk.
Why does it matter? Well, there are several reasons why you need to know how much your client knows about your business before you open you start talking.
- No one likes being talked down to. It is insulting and more importantly, a waste of time. Don’t misunderstand: It is your responsibility to make sure that your client has a full understanding of what they are purchasing. However, there are a lot of very smart people on this planet. Assuming you are the smartest person in the room is not the best way to begin (or continue) working with them.
- Not every sales pitch works with every person. I was in church a few weeks ago and the minister was speaking of giving back to the community. He said, “If you don’t like the message take it up with management, after all, I’m just in sales!” Thankfully, our sales people don’t have to depend upon a 2000-year-old pitch. However, that also means that we have pitches that were designed for specific industries. What convinces a piping engineer may not be what an architect wants to hear. It’s very unlikely that you can offer the solution to their problem by selecting one randomly. Listen first; offer later.
- Relativity is the key. As a client of mine put on Facebook last night, “Everything is relative. To the lobsters in the kitchen, the sinking of the Titanic was a miracle!” This is especially important when it comes to the question of perceived value. If I can help get your production line back up 10 hours earlier than your traditional way of working and that line makes you $10,000 per hour then my $50,000 invoice means you doubled your money. If you are an architect with a Dot Product DPI-7, my $50,000 invoice is 10 times the cost of your hardware and as a result seems much more costly. Same work, same equipment, same profit margin on my end. But very different levels of perceived value due to the way that each relates to me.
- You have to fit in. In my opinion, the key to success is finding a place to plug your “new” way into the existing dataflow at your client’s office. Odds are it will not be the best place. Few want to change everything all at once and trust their success to an outside vendor. Once the hand-off point has been defined, find the person at the client’s office that will be responsible for taking your deliverable and plugging it in. Offer to help, hold their hand, above all listen to them. They will be your best advocate for future work or the person that guarantees this project will be a one off.