I’ve heard this response more times than I care to remember. I’m in a prospect’s office, typically the Owners with a large bookcase of business classics like Gitomer’s “Sales Bible” and Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich” and everything is going well. I never promise anything too early, I’m not a YES man, instead I’m there to understand the company, it’s motivation and what needs to be delivered to determine a successful outcome.
Before I get into my opinion, based on almost a decade of failed sales techniques, in the following piece I’m talking from the perspective of selling a truly bespoke solution. I’m not modifying an existing solution, we are creating something entirely new for the customer, it has to work, first time and last.
We move from a fact find to the request for a proposal with ease and it’s at this point that I upset people, a lot of people.
It’s not that I am flatly refusing to give them a proposal, instead my belief is that without the detail and as a technical delivery, it’s hard to estimate with accuracy the time and investment required to deliver the project largely in their head.
There are so many unasked questions and we all know what assume me stands for – ASS out of U and ME!
I’ve tried a number of approaches in the past including a ‘ballpark’ that “nobody will hold me too” but that’s simply not true. If you quote 2 months and realise after the sale it’s 4 months that’s a massive problem.
So we charge upfront for a project spec, we are completely transparent about it and believe it’s actually best for both the client and us, win win!
I believe it’s an industry problem, self created. Why is it that you would never approach an architect to draw up free plans for your house build or extension, but when it comes to technical architecture it should be free.
I do also understand that sometimes you have to give away stuff for free, value bombs, information that your potential customers can use regardless of whether they become a customer or not. But a bespoke technical specification for me is outside this generic form of marketing.
I would be quite bold to state that you probably wouldn’t build your house on architectural plans that you got for free. So why expect the same for any bespoke service, especially for one that may end up costing you the same as a new house.
So here are 3 fundamental reasons you need to pay for a quality, well thought out technical specification and not get a ballpark for free:
- the seller fears their intellectual property will be shared with others and that price is everything, deliberately holding back critical information until the sale is confirmed. They will provide a best case scenario to win the work, painting the best possible picture of delivery
- your request for a quote after an hour’s meeting will be treated it as a low priority. No technical person in their right mind rushes to create detailed, free specifications that answers all possible scenarios with enough technical insight to provide an accurate estimate for free
- You will get 3 different proposals for 3 completely different technical solutions, all unrealistic and in the end you will pay more! Fixed price projects suffer even worse as the relationship starts to break down. We have previously quoted transparently up front for the actual planning and been rejected. I know of lots of projects where the project went through multiple suppliers, tens of thousands over budget and took months and even years to never launch!
In summary, everything above is my opinion, but I can say it’s an opinion from the trenches. If you are seeking a very simple, straightforward solution that multiple suppliers can quote for and it can be explained in a single meeting, I would still argue the case for paying a technical company to create your specification. The development team should act as a partner and the conduit between the technical words and the one that yours.
This is not a Green Gorilla Software problem, it’s an industry problem and one that I encounter on a daily basis. If you truly want to innovate and grow your business, do the right thing and take the time to properly plan the project and explore how to save time and money up-front before committing to the project. That way you have all the information to make an informed decision to ensure the successful outcome and a realistic time period and ROI.
Well thought out Technical Specifications = no surprises, you choose!
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