But will asking for something risk the relationship? No -- asking for what one needs to succeed demands the client/prospect's respect, if it is clearly in their best interest. And with their respect comes an opportunity to serve them better.
An example may illuminate: Late Saturday night, the "final" changes on the PowerPoint for the “C” suite executives’ annual shareholder meeting were completed. The rehearsal is Tuesday morning, the big event the next day.
For a week there has been round after round of changes, night and day. It’s clear that they respect the work -- but you, the designer, felt powerless in the interactions. Now it’s midnight, and the decks must be reviewed by the C team and ready for any last-minute adjustments early Monday.
What can you doto ensure that the C team is ready
with their final input on time?
Call the executive assistant Sunday morning to remind her about the timing. Ask how she can ensure that the final changes arrive Monday morning. Trust in the knowledge that this is in their best interests -- and in their need to perform before their shareholders.
When they call you
Another example: you get the call you’ve long been waiting for, the prospect sends the RFP and then says they’re reviewing three firms.
What can you do to ensure that the client gets what they need to succeed?
After reviewing the RFP, and doing some investigative work, you inform them that the scope of work description is too restrictive. It’s simply not in their best interests, or yours, to respond to the RFP. Experience demonstrates that meeting their goals will require a collaborative approach -- an approach that will reveal a successful path. To that end, propose a half or full-day planning session, with a fee, that will provide a road map for moving forward, whether your firm is involved or not.
Finally, you enter their conference room, which is adorned with materials for the project: research reports, strategy documents, competitive documents, etc. You have prepared a portfolio presentation, but seeing this display you think, “maybe they are going to give me the assignment.”
Then you remember that one of your best clients referred this company. On the spot you decide to skip the planned presentation. On one hand, you’d put a lot of work into it and wanted to show it off. On the other hand, if you move directly into project questioning mode maybe you’ll land the assignment.
What can you do towin the project?
Engage the prospect team in a lively discussion with: questions, observations, possibilities, and all the followup you can muster. Watch their reactions -- do they see I get it? After neatly an hour you have a good sense of what’s required, so you summarize the project and ask how they view that approach. After some back-and-forth, and agreement on the scope, you propose a budget and delivery dates and they accept. In just one hour, you depart with a great project.
They believe in you
When they ask you, it means that they believe that you can help them. When they believe in you to the extent of your ability to help them, they expect you to ask for what you need to be successful. So get out there and just do it.