Be flexible

October 2, 2006

In direct opposition to my post on Friday I want to offer up a small tidbit of advice. Whenever possible, try to be flexible and it just might turn out to make your life easier and the sale or proposition easier to swallow. Let me explain.

If you remember, my partner is tight with money. I was on a mission to sell him on the idea that we should purchase fairly expensive business cards in an effort to create a fairly high end image. I believe everything that I said still holds true, but we have to ask ourselves, “Is there an easier way that just might work just as well?”.

The answer turned out to be “yes”. With a little creativity, I started to look at ways to reduce the cost of our business cards without sacrificing quality. I found out that the reason the cards were going to be so expensive was because of the colors on the logo. For technical reasons it was going to cause the printer a lot of time and trouble and they would have to use higher quality print plates to pull off my design. So, I started to look at my options.

What I decided to do was simplify the logo colors a bit. By doing this I was able to cut $150 off our total bill. And guess what? My partner agreed immediately to printing the cards the way I wanted.

Moral of the story? Look for ways to be flexible without completely compromising what you want. It just might make your life a whole lot easier.

Quote of the day: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

   

Albert Einstein

What I’ve come to learn over the years is that you need to plan when dealing with people. If you want the results of a meeting or decision to go your way, you need to think straight through to your desired conclusion, anticipate hurdles, frame your argument and put a plan in place to get to your desired result.

I’m telling you this because I haven’t addressed the money issue yet with my partner. I need a plan. I don’t even have business cards designed yet. Plus I’m extremely busy with other things so rushing into a heated discussion before I’m ready is probably not the best thing to do. Anyway, he could still come around before I even bring it up. Slim chance but at this point, time is on my side.  It’s Friday and I have the weekend to think through the scenarios and figure out how to get to my desired outcome. This should also give me some time to work up some designs and use them to broach the subject.

I realize that my problem is a small one. That doesn’t matter. We could be talking about closing a million dollar deal or deciding who is going to go pick up office supplies. If you want the tide to flow with you and your desired outcome you need to have a plan and have the facts on your side.

Regarding my outcome, my desired goal is to be able to purchase my ideal business cards. First, I need to look up pricing data and compare what I want vs. what I expect my partner to want. I’m expecting him to choose a cheaper set of business cards and save $150 so I need to have a fairly firm grasp on pricing options. That price should consider time, taxes, shipping, turn-around time and quality.

Next, I need data on my thought process. Why does my company image matter? Why should we spend an extra $150 on our image?

Thirdly, I need to determine if there are technical reasons why we need to go my route. These are reasons that demand going with a service provider and a higher quality product because it just can’t be done any other way.

And lastly, you need some general trump cards and you need to plan how to present them. For example, I am the creative person, he is technical. I know more about these things and it should be my decision. Second, the printer that gave me the quote for the higher priced cards is a friend from our local chamber. It’s an investment in a relationship and will surely pay off in the future. Lastly, you can focus on the real value vs. the money. Is $150 more for business cards really worth fighting about? Is it even worth the time talking since our time is normally billed at $100 an hour each? Make the time vs. money argument if you can and it might turn things in your favor.

A powerful tool is finding a way to frame the debate so your opponents opinion looks like it doesn’t make sense. You can use this framing technique in any aspect of your business relationships. It can explain away objections to your service, actions, price and many other areas that affect sales and relationships. Knowing how to frame your argument is a very powerful tool if you can learn to do it right.

Anyway, I am going to take the weekend, plan my attack and get all my materials together – as well as my business card design suggestions. Then, when all is ready and I have my argument framed properly, then I’ll call my partner and address it with him unless he brings it up first.

In closing (and on a separate subject) I’d like to close with a quote. It’s a very simple quote, yet one that sums up a lot of what I’m trying to do with this site. As I work through my problems here, I’m trying to think through my plans and strategies so I can poke holes in my path to success and get to my desired goals. To run a successful business you need to be a leader. You need to lead the company, your employees and lead your competition, in the sense that you’re always one step ahead of them. We’ll talk a lot more about leadership in the near future.
Have a good weekend.

In simplest terms, a leader is one who knows where he wants to go, and gets up, and goes.” John Erskine

   

Yesterday I mentioned that my partner and I are dealing with money issues. Just like any relationship or partnership, money weighs heavy on your ability to remain civil. My partner makes it extra hard because he’s obsessed with money. He’s as tight as a sixteen year old on a first date and he’s aggressive about holding on to every last penny.

So of course, yesterday, when I approached the subject of getting new business cards for our operations, he didn’t respond to my email. The reason for my concern is that I’ve suggested that we order some really nice business cards that will run us about $360 for both of us. They are really nice and should convey a nice message of quality when you hand one to a potential client.

Now, in my mind, $360 is worth the investment. I firmly believe that a first impression goes a long way when trying to make sales and you need every bit of ammo on your side when running your business. High quality, heavy weight business cards are a necessary first step. I always laugh when someone hands me a card that you know was printed on their home printer. It just shows that they’re not successful enough or serious enough to invest money in this necessary first step.

So, back to my partner. I have a feeling that since he did not respond to my email that he’s not too hip on spending the money. He’d rather get the cheap, glossy cards that you can pick up for about $200 at the bulk printer and save us $150. I could be wrong and I’ll be sure to let you know IF I am wrong. I just have a feeling.

So, how do you handle this? Well, my first thought is to fire off an email this morning and say “wtf” man!? Did you not get my email asking your opinion about the business cards? This is a necessary first step to ramping up our sales effort for 2007 and we just wasted another friggin’ day!

Well, as you can guess, this is not the way to handle it. It’s the easiest way to handle it but obviously not the best. I’m going to get on the phone today and discuss it with him because he’s more apt to back down and go down the correct path if confronted directly. My point is this (and I’ve made this mistake 1000 times). NEVER fire off an email when you need to confront someone directly in business. Do it on the phone or in person. (Instant messenger DOES NOT COUNT!) Nothing good can come from a confrontation via email. Learn this lesson early as you work through your business dealings. Always remember it. Have the balls to pick up the phone and talk through issues like adults. The outcome will always be better than trying to interpret an email. Plus, I believe people are less likely to stand up to you if confronted directly. It’s much easier to get cocky via the keyboard.

Now, just for laughs, here’s a totally stupid video that sums up the saying “Nothing good can come from it.” This is just a little less productive than dealing with confrontations via email. Enjoy.

Dropping a 50 pound ball of silly putty from a building