Published on Monday, April 27, 2009
Sales says “yes” to everything, right? Come on, that’s the stereotype that we all have, isn’t it? Sales promises the moon, hands it off to us and now we have to deliver. Or worse, Sales promises some vague idea of the moon and now the customer is expecting the full moon and we have to work very hard (and dance) to reset those customer expectations.
So, we 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 – and say ‘no’ constantly to customer changes and requests – which we don’t. Here’s why….
What is the customer usually asking for? Training that they thought should be included as part of the engagement? Additional data integrations beyond what the SOW called for? New or additional functionality that wasn’t mapped out during Exploration? 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 Everything
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 haven’t said ‘yes’, though you likely will. And the customer now has the expectation that the request is doable, but may cost money…the foot is in the door.
Increasing the Bottom Line
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 for an additional data integration made during Exploration may mean 5 hours of additional Design work, 10 hours of additional Development work, and 3 hours of additional Testing work. This is 18 hours of additional work and if your organization is billing at, say, $150/hour then that’s $2,700.
This same request made during Testing would take a greater effort since the system is already developed at this point and only Testing and Deployment remain. This same request may now mean 5 hours of Exploration effort, 10 hours in Design, 15 hours of Development, and 10 hours of specific Testing effort to ensure everything is integrated properly. That’s 40 hours or $6,000. This is just one example and a very small one – but it shows that a change requested later on can result double the revenue in some cases…maybe even more.
Saying ‘yes’ to change requested by the customer makes good sense. You’ll come across as willing and able and you’ll likely have a happier customer because you’re meeting their needs. But you’ll also be increasing your revenue for the project. I said yes, yes, yes to one large industrial supply organization located in the Midwest last year and it resulted in over $100k in additional revenue over a 4-month period prior to the Deployment of Phase 1 of their software solution. I was happy, executive management was happy, but most of all the customer was happy and very willing to pay for it.
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