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Aaargh….shut up and ask a question already!

Andrew Neitlich

So I’m talking to one of 5 potential developers by phone today. This guy keeps on talking at me: “Here’s why we are the best. Here’s why our developers are the best. We aim to please. We will give you what you want. Our pricing is great because we outsource here. We develop in PHP, which is much better than .Net…”

But he never took the time to ask me any questions about what I was trying to achieve — other than reading some high level specs I provided him. Well, he did ask some questions, about budget and my long-term commitment to him. But his questions were all about him and his needs, and nothing about what I wanted to achieve as a potential client.

Then, when I asked him some questions — like how he went about estimating time for the project, what kinds of open source modules he might know about, how to handle change requests — he got defensive, as if I was annoying him. (And he is the president of the company).

Do your prospects a favor. Don’t preach to them. Ask them more than basic qualifying questions. How do they define success? What are their concerns? How comfortable are they with technology? What are their goals? What help do they need developing specifications or choosing a technology platform? Have they thought through all of the elements required for a successful project?

You all know this, but I’m amazed at how common it is to get an IT professional on the phone who forgets.

This kind of thing is sooooo frustrating for me as a prospect, and a great opportunity for you. But you know this.