ASAP = Mutually Assured Dissatisfaction
By Talmar Anderson
Say no to ASAP projects. Ohhh…I know they can be seductive. Fast cash. Quick turnaround. But the ASSUMPTIONS and EXPECTATIONS hang in the air ready to cut quickly at every chance of success that would have been hoped for….This is me giving you permission to say no. No to ASAP.
I am not saying you should never take the last minute call from a prospect. Nor am I suggesting that you would not be able to quickly resolve or improve the client’s situation. I believe in you and you company’s value and ability to deliver. But there is a saying. You can be Quick & Good or Quick & Cheap but ASAP will only bring tears and frustrations. That may not be the expression but that is a TRUTH! ASAP means the project is already unsatisfactory.
As soon as possible, too often means:
- Faster than is reasonable
- Faster than I could do if I was willing to take the time to do it now
Taking on these projects, The KEY is to use dates and times. None of that “as soon as I can get it to you!” allowed. I PROMISE that they started watching the clock the minute you both hung up the phone in this scenario.
You thought you had time to go take a shower and a grab cup of coffee before sitting down at your desk. By 10 am, the client was already grumbling to anyone that would listen that they didn’t think it would “take this long”. You are operating on an assumption that you will deliver tomorrow AM by around this time. The client is staring at the email folder waiting for the notification starting at noon. They go to lunch where they are in a bad mood and mention to their lunch party that they are anxious about a deliverable that your company should be delivering any minute. Client continues to check their phone every 5 minutes. At 3:00pm you receive a tense message that the client is “wondering when” they will see something from you. Surprised and now a little ruffled you have to stifle your natural instinct to say “WHEN I AM G** D*** Done!” and offer a response of “working on it now’. The project ends with you skipping dinner and working until 10:00pm.
Dis-sat-isfaction! You are pissed and worried you forgot to spell check before you sent over the project because you were tired. The client has the project finished but remembers more easily the waiting than the resolution of the urgent need. Bad situation.
When you get that call from an excited client it is easy to be sucked into the hopefulness of the call. Their sense of urgency leads you to believe your company has a chance to be the hero. The client usually pumps you up by acknowledging working with your firm is the best option, perhaps even where they should have started, to get the result they originally wanted from their project needs.
Before agreeing you MUST get detailed clarification on the result requested. In ASAP situations there are two possibilities. First, the ideal result they usually would hire your company to perform however, now in an accelerated timeframe. Second, a minimum requirement result delivered in the accelerated timeframe.
This is important to note because in these projects, clients are no longer buying your services or products. They are buying time. ASAP is driven by a deadline need. ASAP requests are presented after the ideal, (and sometimes) reasonable start time.
It is YOUR job to protect your company by only agreeing to projects that can be delivered upon within YOUR company’s schedule. So before you agree, consider:
- What do they want completed?
- When do they need it for review/possible changes (always pick a deadline that is before their drop dead time)?
- Within your company’s regular processes, is the time a possibility/realistic?
- How does that fit into your company’s current workflow calendar?
- Lastly, in your expert opinion, will your company be able to deliver in such a way as to not only meet the deadline but enhance your company’s reputation?
Once you have all of those answers, you can sit down to decide your proposed fee and YOUR delivery deadlines- dates AND times. At this point, you should only proceed if the client can accept and work with your carefully considered and communicated delivery timeframes. Only you know what it will really take with your current company’s project load to deliver on this urgent request.
Lastly, I highly recommend that you NOT be swayed by a counter request for more acceleration of the schedule. Assure the client that you were careful to consider that they called in a panic instead of the usual two week (or 3 month, etc. norm) and want them to receive the right answer to the problem instead of hurrying through and complicating their project needs with incomplete or unsatisfactory work.
Communicated delivery deadlines that include dates and times allow your business the space to work and possibly excel on a client expectation. That is a WIN for everyone!