Saturday, December 29, 2007

Project Closure

The Final Step: Project Closure

This is the grand finale, the big daddy of the steps and the most sensitive stage of the sales cycle. Every word that you say might have an impact on the client's decision thus it is very important to weigh your words. You have to be very tactful here. A lot of clients try to push in a lot of extra features or functionalities beyond the original scope of work you have discussed, while promising to award the project to you. The first thought that comes to mind is that they are trying to play dirty pool and you maybe right. But then again its general human psychology to ask for more than their money's worth. So what do you do? You are in horns of dilemma whether to increase the project pricing and make the smile on your boss' face wider or agree to deliver the additions without increasing the project pricing to ensure closure. And this is the time when you start wondering why you chose marketing and sales as your career in the first place. Decisions! Decisions!

Another type will try to negotiate with you over the pricing after everything has been settled! In this case, find out if you can afford to give a discount. If not, inform the client clearly but in a subtle way that you cannot reduce the price further.

If you have reached thus far, the client is quite likely to go with you. If you increase the project pricing, the client is likely to tell you that he is already stretching his budget with the current pricing but still have decided to go with you since you seem like a good company and have been very professional in your approach. These are words that most sales person longs to hear and why not? You deserve to close the project after all the hard work you've put in. Loads o' Francis Ford Crapolla!! The client is trying to pull a fast one on you and you know that! Inform the client very clearly what your standing is. Take a top down approach and inform the client what the possible deliverables are within the current pricing. If the additional functionalities are very important then they have to compromise on some other functionality. Either that or tell the client to bugger off!! No just joking!!

Talk to the client and try to find a middle ground. Most folks respond well to reason. If this still doesn't work, take up the the work but outsource it to a smaller company or get a freelancer to do that work. You may have to compromise on your profit just a little bit but its better than working at a loss or losing the project altogether.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Proposal Review

Step Three: Proposal Review with the client

Hi All! Have been away for sometime. In my last 2 posts we have discussed Needs Analysis and how to create Effective Proposals. In this article we will discuss the next step which is proposal review.

It is very important to be on the same page as the client. This is a very important step during which you should discuss all the elements of the proposal and figure out the final scope of work. Discuss with the client what you will do through a step by step approach and what would be the roles and responsibilities of both parties. This is also the time when you should clarify all billing and pricing related details. The idea is to clarify any doubts that either parties might have and also to ensure transparency at all levels. If you have missed out on including any point or the client has added to the scope of work, make sure that you send a revised proposal. If you see that there has been a lot of change in the scope of work its always prudent to conduct second of round of discussion with the client.

Few years back I came to know about an excellent web conferencing software called GotoMeeting by Citrix, though it had its limitation on the MAC platform. This application has really helped me in the past to explain things to my clients and also to give demos or presentations. Moreover, it lets you record the presentations which can be reviewed later on for self analysis or to show your team how to hold effective discussions with clients (if your presentation was really good). Webex is another great tool though a tad bit expensive. If you are negotiating with a client who is based locally, it is always an effective measure to have a face to face meeting.

In my next post I'll discuss the final points which if done correctly should ultimately lead to project closure.

Cheers everybody!!!