We often find ourselves telling our clients they’re wrong. Of course, we don’t say it like that – “You’re Wrong! Mr. Client!” No.
Sometimes they have a problem and already have a solution in mind. Our engineers can often tell very quickly their solution is not going to fix their problem. These discussions are usually easy. The engineers can come up with better solutions and it’s obvious we’re working in our customers’ best interests.
But what if you think they’re solving the wrong problem? This is a much more difficult conversation. Especially, if they are passionate about solving a problem that you don’t think is a problem. Maybe you’re not the one having this problem, but other’s are. Maybe they’d appreciate the solution. Who’s to know?
I heard a great suggestion on how to handle this just the other day (Thanks CS!). I love it because it’s open, and honest, and all about starting the relationship off right. Just ask – at the beginning of the relationship, or conversation, or wherever you happen to find yourself, just ask if they’re open to questions about their assumptions if you hear something that does not make sense. It might sound something like this “You know, Mr. Customer, sometimes I’m talking with other CEOs and they say things that just don’t make sense, they find it very helpful when I question these statements. Is that something you would find valuable?” I’d be shocked to get a no, but whether they say yes, or no, at least you know where you stand. And who know, you may just learn something.