Have you ever experienced that you have been asked or assigned to do something, but later on it turns out that you and whoever made the request had a different view of how the task or service was to be performed.
And perhaps you at some point spent more time than you would like making phone-calls and sending e‑mails trying to acquire complementary information when you are about to perform or deliver a service, even though you already had a meeting in which you made arrangements for how the service should be carried out?
If you are in a position where you receive requests and orders of any kind, and you need to obtain a lot of information from the customer in order for the purchase-process to run smoothly, it helps to have some sort of tool aiding you to keep track of all the information have been discussing.
The essentials to a traveling sales-man
A traveling sales-representative has known what is about to follow for years, but the rest of us can take part of their wisdom without having to experience the unpleasantries of acquiring such knowledge. The sales-man has his note-pad ready with assigned columns for article numbers, quality and price, and hence I hereby urge you to:
Make your own form!
With “make” I am not implying that you go to the nearest supply-store and purchase a pre-made standard form, but that you should create one from scratch that sees to your specific requirements and needs.
You might be a project manager, a communications officer, a graphic artist, a shoemaker, the owner of a flower-shop, a consultant, a lawyer, a CEO or something else which requires you to do things for other people. If you use a form when you are discussing business with the client, you can be sure you will have discussed all the essential details by the end of the conversation since there are empty spaces to fill out, which make sure you do. It is appealing to fill an empty box with writing, and two “Yes-“ and “No”-boxes necessitate you to making a decision.
- Choose a situation in your work-day in which you would find it useful having a customized form.
- Take out an empty sheet of paper and a pen (and a ruler if you want completely straight lines).
- Make a sketch by hand of what boxes you might need. It doesn’t need to be neat. What is important is that you include what you need.
- Make sure you also make a box reserved for writing down the next step, so that you are reminded to agree on what the next step to take the process further, should be.
- If it is important for you to know what the client thought of your work, add a short survey consisting of a couple questions asking the client to evaluate how satisfied he or she is, in the bottom right corner. For instance, “How did you experience…” or “What could I do better next time?”.
- If you value making the right priorities, include a box where you can indicate what goal you aim to attain with completing this sale (or whatever your form is intended for).
- Either draw the form yourself in an appropriate software or ask for the assistance of someone who will do it better and faster, for instance your advertising agency.
- Before you press “print 1000 copies”, try the form at three separate occasions and refine it as you learn what you are still missing.
- When you feel it suffices and works in accordance with your requirements, print enough forms to last you for a few months.
- Ask your boss if you can introduce your new tool in the next department-conference. Perhaps your colleagues are longing for an equally smooth work-day as you just have created for yourself.
Get it right to begin with more often
Create a form and the process of processing a request of something you will do for someone, will be faster since you can initiate a discussion of more concrete matters immediately compared to if you started the conversation aided only by an empty sheet of paper (and hopefully not an equally empty mind).
You will now do the right thing right away, since you in the initial phase of the process get the information you actually need, expressed clearly and explicitly. You will deliver higher quality. You can relax during the conversation at the meeting safely knowing you will have all the essentials covered by the end of it. You will also experience fewer misunderstandings since you can make sure you and your client share the same view on what is to be done before you commence the project.
How do you do it?
How do you make sure to get it right the first time? Tell me and others by leaving a comment!