The title for this blog post is pretty self-explanatory. I’m going to talk about a phenomena that’s all too common in business, and one that every businessperson needs to learn. And this goes for all types of businesses, everywhere – this happened to me twenty five years ago when I had my little direct mail advertising business out of my apartment in Montgomery NY, and it happened to me yesterday.
It’s the simple fact that service providers and clients are often not always on the same page. Especially when it comes to quoting jobs verbally. It’s not that clients don’t hear what you are saying, it’s just that they interpret it a little different.
For example, if you give a price range verbally, the lower number will ALWAYS be the price. If you give a timeframe, the fastest timeframe will ALWAYS be the one remembered.
And you have to be ready for this, because if you aren’t, it can get you into trouble. This is why we have written proposals – I do not get into quoting jobs verbally except in a very basic form. That’s because of the “what I say and what they hear” thing.
Perhaps an example would be easier to digest:
What I say to a client
Ok Mr. Client, here’s the project proposal – it will cost between $1,700 and $2,500. This will be for 8-12 pages of copy. I will start it the week of July 5th – now, that’s a holiday week, so it’ll likely start later in the week. But I will start it that week. The finished project will take approximately 1-2 weeks from the time I start. Even though it’s usually not needed, I will include 1 edit to get to a final version.
What the client hears:
The project will cost $1,700 firm, and not a penny more. That will be for a minimum of 12 pages of copy. It will be started Monday morning, July 5th, at 7am sharp, and you will continue working on it until it is finished. A July 5th e-mail at 10am asking how things are going will be promptly responded to with great enthusiasm. The project will be completely finished by week’s end. Furthermore, I understand that you will do as many edits as I see fit, even if it means a change in project direction.
Please keep in mind – the above is normal (I’m not complaining or blaming the client). In fact, when *I* am a client, I tend to do the same thing (I do try to catch myself… I’m just saying it’s normal to assume the most favorable terms for yourself.)
Dan Lesson: Verbal works fine for extreme basics. And even then, make sure you are ready for the above to happen – make your low number in the verbal the number you can really live with. But for official jobs, always do written proposals.