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02 Nov

How you get all the information you need right away

Datum: 2011-11-02 11:00

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. 

Do this

  1. Choose a sit­u­a­tion in your work-day in which you would find it use­ful hav­ing a cus­tomized form.
  2. Take out an emp­ty sheet of paper and a pen (and a ruler if you want com­plete­ly straight lines).
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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?”.
  6. 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).
  7. 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.
  8. Before you press print 1000 copies”, try the form at three sep­a­rate occa­sions and refine it as you learn what you are still missing.
  9. When you feel it suf­fices and works in accor­dance with your require­ments, print enough forms to last you for a few months.
  10. 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!