Client Management Lesson #4: Ask For More

This is the fourth post in a seven part series on Key Client Management Lessons. Lesson #4: Ask For More

In earlier client management posts I’ve talked about how it’s critical to align your interests with the client’s interests.  Identify a shared goal that benefits both parties and work towards it.

In some cases, you may find that your ambitions are far higher than your client’s.  As a result, there can be some friction as the client perceives you as pushing too hard and not deferring to their priorities.  This is a bad situation to be in.  You’re forced to either upset the client or lower your ambitions.  Neither is optimal.

This is why, when setting goals for a project, always ask for more.

To get to a “win/win” in any negotiation you have to ensure that both parties are happy.  If you know you’re going to run into a situation where the client is going to try to get you to hold back on your goals, set two goals.  The first goal should be one that can be reached with solid focus and hard work.  The second (generally 20% to 40% higher) should be a stretch goal -- that is, one where you’ll need some big things to happen to be successful.  Present the stretch goal to your client.

If you do this, one of two things will happen: 1.) they’ll accept it as the goal for the project and that’s a win as you’ll both be pushing for huge success or 2.) they’ll push back and try to get you to lower the goal.  When #2 happens you’re still in a good position as you can concede on what you asked for and still be happy.  Either way, you’re happy and they’re happy, and that’s a win/win.

Sometimes asking for more is the only way to get to a win/win.

There’s a fantastic book on win/win negotiating titled, Getting to Yes.  I highly recommend it if you’re interested in reading more on this topic.