Why we should say ‘yes’
When we feel that sales has oversold our solution we often think we have to go into the engagement saying ‘no’ and resetting expectations. And we think that we need to monitor scope – which we do. Unfortunately, we often think we need to go in saying ‘no’ constantly to customer changes and requests – which we don’t. Here’s why….
- Saying no to the customer does not put the customer in a happy place – remember the old adage that the customer is always right
- Saying yes leads to change and change leads to more work and more revenue
- Saying yes or at least entertaining a ‘yes’ makes the customer think you’re easier to work with and will help you get a different (more positive?) mindset
What is the customer usually asking for? Training that they thought should be included as part of the engagement? Additional data loading beyond what the SOW called for? New or additional functionality that wasn’t mapped out during exploration? A more extensive ad campaign than previously planned or agreed upon? There are a million different things that the customer can be asking for and all can mean additional revenue if negotiated properly. And saying ‘yes’ rather than ‘no’ will likely mean a happy, referenceable, and return customer.
Approach is important
How you handle the customer requests or the needs that have caused this decision point is very important. Take a deep breath, avoid the urge to say ‘no’ and utter something like…
“This is an important request, but I believe that it might fall outside the scope of the original SOW and the original requirements of this engagement. If so, it can mean an impact to the project timeline and budget and may necessitate a change order. We will review the SOW and requirements and propose a solution by ‘x’.
You definitely haven’t said “no.” You really haven’t said “yes” yet either, though you probably will. Plus, instead of shooting the customer’s request down – breeding negativity on the project - the customer now has the expectation that the request is doable, but may cost money. Your job on presenting a change order is half done.
Increasing the bottom line for the engagement
Another thing to keep in mind is that the later in the process that a change or addition (both are ‘changes’ in terms of the SOW and requirements) is made, the more revenue it will likely mean. A change order during the exploration phase for an additional ad or two new graphics may mean 20 hours of work at this early stage of the project.
This same request made near project or campaign rollout would take a greater effort since everything is nearly complete and really only approval and deployment remain. At this stage that same change that would have been only 20 hours of work early on may now be 60 hours, resulting in – depending on the project labor rates – possibly $6,000 more in project labor costs and that’s not even considering any outside vendor costs that might be needed. This is just one example (and a small one) – but it shows that a change requested later on can result in double or triple the original revenue for the same effort.
The bottom line is this – staying positive and saying “yes” to change makes good sense. The customer is happy, your organization gains financially and in the end you are delivering what the customer really wants. There may be cases where change happens that you say “yes” to but due to the late stage of the project it may need to fall into a post-implementation phase (resulting in even higher revenue, most likely). But that’s ok because you’ll still be delivering what the customer ultimately wants and needs.
What are your experiences with change requests? Have you had clients who hate these and give you much grief when trying to get them approved? What strategies have you employed to convince them of their necessity…to get them approved? Please share your experiences…