written by Brian Koch
So often I findmyself fielding calls where on the other end of the phone one of our customers
has decided on a technological solution (a hammer), and are now looking for a
problem (the right nail). I have to admit that when the customer has cash
in hand it’s always tempting to just take the money and run. However, the
reality is our clients don’t really want a hammer or a nail; they want
something of real value – a finished solution (like a house).
We work in technology so it’s cool when we get to talk about a solution with
this cutting edge product or a process improvement framework coupled with some
techno buzz-word angle. Ultimately our customers don’t care how extensive our
big data credentials are or whether or not our mobile mojo has trumped our
social ace in the hole.
The value we bring to an opportunity begins with the current cost to our
client. In other words, the only way to calculate our value is to start
with the current cost of the client’s situation. It is important for us in the
consulting business to understand and agree on the current cost of status-quo.
Solid business decisions are primarily made when the cost of status quo
becomes so burdensome that the buyer must make a change to improve the
situation. I realize this sounds simple, but once you strip away all the sales
process, technique, and tools, all that is left is this one simple fact. When
pain reaches a tipping point, a decision to make a change is going to be made.
All Projects Are Business Projects. The beginning point is
rooted in getting agreement upon the current cost of doing business. This may
seem like a given, but you would be surprised how often we forget to take the
time and discuss the current cost of the issues, pains, and goals our customers
are facing before we grab a hammer and nail and go to town.
I’m not suggesting every consultant on every project needs to conduct a full
blown Return on Investment (ROI). Business projects are based on identified
issues, pains, and goals and some perspective on the cost of status quo.
So before we write the first line of code or recommend the next phase of
a project to our customers, let’s ask the right questions. The
results of this business project mindset will be the foundation for furthering
our relationship as we discuss how we can swing our hammers and help our
customers be more successful using technology products and services.