These days you’re really lucky if you get two. This is a humorous approach to the magical solutions to the business problems so many clients want and have convinced themselves actually exist (these clients want all three of the big circles). Clients who are desperate for new business and don’t want to wait. Clients who are not business savvy. There are plenty of service providers out there who cater to the magical solutions (mind you, they don’t get results, they just cater).
I’m not one of them.
I was just interviewed by a potential client who has a service business. She wanted half a dozen new clients in two months or less. Someone told her she could achieve this through hiring a resource to fix or improve the SEO on her website. And maybe moving the website over to WordPress which has a fairly impressive (and free) SEO scheme that comes with websites and blogs that are created there. The client was all set to click her heels and say “there’s no place like home.”
Then she met me. And I presented reality. Uh oh. Reality like SEO is part of a larger strategy to get attention. A strategy which might include blogging, being published and referenced online, doing your own social networking. Next I explained that moving your existing website over to WordPress is not a simple migration process. Sure, you have all the templates, but I explained you still needed to have a designer work on it for you and you need a strategy of how to present your information in the new format (with many more choices of options). Reality like there’s no magic bullet. And no designer on earth makes Dorothy shoes. And that maybe, just maybe, her goals were a tad unrealistic.
She really didn’t want to hear this. Oh she was polite alright but I knew what she was thinking – she couldn’t hide her disbelief that she couldn’t just push one button and make it all happen.
How to separate the magical wishers from the business
So knowing this, I moved on to the deal closer or breaker items that I use to weed out shoppers who want a magical solution as opposed to the real business world which I operate in. I said I would send along my standard contract (where the client agrees to provide me with the information I need to do my job and also agrees to pay me and I agree to do my job within the time frame and estimate I provide).
And I also said I would charge for my estimate. It takes time and strategic thinking to figure out how to solve the problem so you can estimate each item that will need to be done – this is called work product. The estimate is part of the solution (or roadmap) to the project. So I’m working to create the estimate but I also know if I give the person an estimate for free, then I’ve done the hard work of figuring out how to get the results they need. They can then take my estimate and hire someone else (without a strategic brain) to execute it. This is the second reason I charge for my estimates – to avoid this situation.
A day later, I got a very nice thank you note and was told the prospect wanted to interview lots of other people. I have likewise replied very politely and wished them the best.
At some point I’m sure you’ve been on each side of this relationship. No matter what side of the equation you find yourself on, make sure you don’t succumb to the magical thinking mindset.
Sandra Holtzman teaches CEO 035: Licensing.
She is the author of Lies Startups Tell Themselves to Avoid Marketing.