Predisclosure (Issue 1099)

In which we are reminded to ask ourselves, “If a client can’t see all the work that’s coming when they implement what they’re buying, should I help them see it?”

I’m taking a summer break (so, no Sales Thoughts on July 3 and July 10 and maybe not on the 17th). In view of my time away from the office, we decided to engage someone to deep clean the wall-to-wall carpets and the (I’m guessing) linoleum break room floor. It’s been a while, so why not now? Arrangements for this intervention were made by Clarity’s practice manager; after several years working in the office, she now works completely remotely.

So, she set a date with the provider, then called me earlier this week and said, “Before you leave for your vacation, get everything up off the floor and make sure nothing is hanging out of the bookcases so he can clean close to those.”

“OK,” I replied, “sure, I can do that. It’s just a few piles of paper on the floor. No problem.”

A friend once said to me, “Everything…..…is a VERY big word.”

At 3:30 pm yesterday afternoon, as I scanned beyond the few piles of paper, I noticed that there were floor-resting objects everywhere including four large waste baskets, eight chairs, several additional piles of documents and books, boxes of printed materials to be shipped to clients, four large plastic carpet protectors, a framed poster to be hung on a wall, a paper shredder, two bags of paper to be shredded, and one bag of shredded paper to be recycled.

Also, a camera tripod with a teleprompter, four auxiliary lighting stands with mounted lights, several boxes of video recording equipment, a half-dozen extension cords, and a nine-foot-high box containing a roll of backdrop paper.

In the break room, a table to be cleared, folded, and put away somewhere (new homes to be found for the appliances and knickknacks).

In my office, in addition, a narrow side table loaded with printer paper and other office supplies all of which I thought should be moved so that the cleaner could access the carpet underneath the table.

Also, a half-dozen briefcases (I can explain this, if asked); a torchiere floor lamp; a CD stand filled to overflowing with music CDs; a wooden axe (goes with my Grim Reaper Halloween costume); a Conn baritone horn in a case; my “road bag” stuffed with facilitator tools – pens, markers, tape, leader guides, participant workbooks; a pile of useless electronics that I’ve been intending to recycle; and a couple of guitars.

And, as I moved all of these things, I got a close look at several corners and baseboards that, shame on me, hadn’t been cleaned in a while, so they needed some attention.

“Everything” is a very big word. Six and a half hours later, I left the office for the night leaving about an hour’s worth of final clean up to do before beginning my summer break.

What if… the rug-cleaning person had come to our office to assess the situation and, with his or her keen eye for detail, noticed the enormity of “everything”, felt my misplaced confidence about “a few piles to clean up”, and anticipated that I’d need several hours to complete the task.

The question is: Should he or she have left me to my own devices? Or asked a question like, “Would you like to take a couple of minutes to think through what’s involved in getting ‘everything’ off the floor?”

There’s a risk I might have killed the deal: “Thank you and I had no idea that there would be so much to do. We have too many other important priorities right now. How ‘bout if we reschedule this in 2033?”

On the other hand, without that question, I ended up in the position I was in at 10:00 pm last night, feeling under-served and muttering under my breath, “This was a stupid idea, I had no idea it would take this long, I have no place to put a lot of this stuff, and [grumpy!] I wish someone had walked me through this.”

Nick Miller is President of Clarity Advantage based in Concord, MA. He assists banks and credit unions to generate more and more profitable relationships, faster, with business clients, their owners, and their employees through better sales strategies and execution. Additional articles on Clarity’s web site.

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