March 31, 2022

The Opposite Of Smart

Longtime list member Jason Hoover wrote in with what I thought was a very clear and concise summary of last Sunday’s Ditcherville comic

I’ve been following your stuff for years, but this cartoon culled out a little nuance for me. You ask the series of ‘whys’ to get down to a metric that the buyer and seller can both agree upon. The consultant might be perceived as obtuse, but it’s for an altruistic reason to help the buyer frame the value of what’s going to be built.

Thank you!


The point in Jason’s summary that I really like is the bit about being perceived as obtuse.

When you go into a sales interview with a potential client, you might be used trying to come across as smart and impressive and convincing and trustworthy and so forth.

In other words, like you have all the answers.

The trouble with this is that it causes you to NOT want to ask many questions...

...which leads to bad assumptions about WHY the client wants to do the project in the first place...

...which leads to NOT knowing what a reasonable price for the project might be...

...or worse, being unable to satisfy the client at all because the project they asked for won’t produce the outcome that they want but never actually shared with you.

Here’s the thing...

I don’t care how smart you are, you don’t have ESP!

Only the client knows what their desired outcome is!

Jumping to conclusions about what the client really wants is a recipe for low pricing, tense relationships, and failed projects.

If you don’t find out up front all the reasons why the client wants to do this project now and with you specifically, you’re decreasing the odd of success for everyone.

And that is the opposite of smart.