The other day I spent a bunch of time in an email thread, going back and forth, to set up a meeting with a potential client to talk about an engagement. It took the two of us at least an hour each to finally agree on a date and time to meet – with the purpose of discussing the client’s needs and how we might be able to help. Within three minutes of the meeting had started it was utterly clear that the clients’ budget expectations were so far off from what we usually work with, that we both agreed that there is no need to continue the conversation.
The mistake I made was to assume that clients’ and our budget expectations were aligned – and thus we ended up wasting a valuable hour of each others time emailing back and forth about a meeting which wouldn’t have been necessary if I would have just asked a few essential questions from the get-go.
We regularly make assumptions, form expectations and opinions based on nothing more than our gut feeling. Sometimes we do this as we believe it would be impolite to ask for money before we have even talked, sometimes we forget or ignore to ask – until we are far down the path of a conversation when we realize that we don’t align.
It is a waste of time, resources, and energy. Also, these three things happen to be the things you have least of when you build something new (and truthfully – they are always the things you have least of).
Instead of making the same mistake – figure out what you need to know and agree on before you set up a meeting, get on the phone or waste anyone’s time and money otherwise. It is not impolite to ask. Quite contrary – wasting someone’s time surely is ruder than a clarifying question early in your conversation.