Friday, March 8, 2013

What the Experts Know…

Recently I was called in to work with an IT firm who was trying to implement and troubleshoot issues with a LAN based CRM solution that I support.  When I got on-site, the flustered and frustrated technician told me through angry tears that he had exhausted all his resources: time, technique, and treasure. In the end he lost money on this deal, and he was losing his rapport with the client by the minute.
After assessing the situation, diagnosing the problem, and setting up a plan to solve it, relief immediately overcame him.  I was glad to facilitate this, but it also reminded me of 3 important lessons I learned early on in my career.
1. Always have a plan before starting any engagement with a client.  If you are not an expert in what they are asking you to do, it’s best to evaluate how much time you can spend figuring it out versus paying someone who knows how to do it, in order to prevent you from losing money. If you are not profitable, you will not stay in business.
2. Set the expectations for the client (this is why the plan is PARAMOUNT). If you can explain to the client before hand what steps need to be taken, they will trust you as you walk through the steps with them, and they will likely go with what you determine as situations progress.  People want to know that what you say will be, especially when dealing with their livelihood and business processes. Set the expectations and follow-through with them as described.
3. Develop partnerships: If you are not an expert, work with experts. Partnerships will make you a lot of profit because they save you time.  It is important to remember that time is worth more than your hourly rate! When you think about it from this perspective, can you really afford to sell it for cheap?
Being and all hands technical expert can take you very far, but it limits your ability to get really good at any one certain thing.  Assess your abilities: strengths and weaknesses, and grow your clients in light of them… This is what the experts know will bring them the greatest success all the way around.