The other day, I was reminded of an underlying tenet of sales... if a customer asks "can you... ...?", the answer is almost always "YES".
"Your job is to understand all of your customers' needs—some of which they may not even realize they have" Apple sales training manual
I learned this working with immensely talented sales professionals in a national organisation, and quite often watched, equally amused and horrified, as the operations team were the ones left to work out the details of fulfillment. Disingenuous? Not at all, if you genuinely want to work with your customer to provide the most appropriate, effective solution, which, in the long run, they will appreciate all the more.
However well defined a specification for work, there will always be changes (occasional viewing of Grand Designs, Master Chef or Dragons Den demonstrate the point) so use that to your advantage. Too often I've heard the lament, "I could have done that, but it's not what they asked for." So why not start building the relationship with a simple "Yes" then work out the details with your customer?
It's difficult, almost impossible, to recover from a "No" if you've no other basis for a relationship beyond the initial question. So, next time you're asked "Can you... ...?" the answer is an unequivocal "YES". And that may mean you delivering, and your customer paying for, something other than what they thought they wanted!
Amanda Boyle is a founder, CEO and non executive director
www.no-waffle.co.uk; www.bloomvc.com; www.caledoniacontracts.co.uk
Keep up with daily musings and comment @nowaffle or the world of crowdfunding @bloomvc
Life continues to be an entrepreneurial adventure :)