January 25, 2019

Deer in the headlights

Sent by Jonathan Stark on January 27th, 2019

Has a client ever put you “on the spot” in a meeting?

It usually goes like this: They ask you a tough question (usually an estimate or prediction of some kind), you don’t have a good answer, your mind goes blank, you start to panic, and then you say something you regret.

When you don’t have a confident answer to a client question, just say so. Then, immediately follow up with what an action that you can take to gain the confidence necessary to deliver a solid answer.

Here’s a template that you can use in almost any situation where you are asked to make a prediction or estimate on the spot. You say:

“That’s unclear at this point but here’s what I propose... I’ll $action, and give you a solid answer by $date. Will that be acceptable?”

Here are some possible values for $action:

It works. Memorize it right now. Say it out loud until it’s second nature.