And now we play the waiting game….. Ahh, the waiting game sucks. Let’s play Hungry Hungry Hippos!
Homer Simpson: From the Episode “Mr. Plow”
The above has to be my favourite quote from the Simpsons. And I agree – the waiting game does indeed suck. Especially when you are waiting for a customer to give you an order, to sign a contract, to agree to a meeting, or any other action they need to perform in order for you to move forward and win the business. Now you could take Homers suggestion (and play a game of Hungry, Hungry Hippos), or you could use some subtle techniques to try and move things forward.
My top six of ways to move things forward are as follows:
- Highlight new risks – Whilst you don’t need to go overboard, highlighting a risk in a conversation or email can make things happen. An example may be to highlight that the delay in signing may mean that the delivery date slips beyond the customer deadline or you will no longer be able to meet the original agreed date. This is my own personal favourite way of moving things forward. This can even take the form of ‘other projects’ which will get slipped into the schedule if there is a delay in signing (after all, you can’t be expected to sit around twiddling your thumbs).
- Delay costs – If you are in the middle of a project with a customer, and they are taking their time completing one of their steps, highlight that this again could add delays and (subject to your T&C’s) additional cost for inactive time.
- Add incentives – Is there something you can do to get an agreement now through discounts, earlier delivery dates, or additional features? But be cautious, they may still want these once offered, even if it does not motivate them.
- Find out the reason for the delay and mitigate – Sometimes, the delay can be down to their own processes or even outside factors. In some of the work I do, my customers are waiting for their customers to raise purchase orders. If you can find the reason for the delays, you can mitigate these issues by offering no charges should their customer not sign.
- Find the decision makers – It could be that the person you are talking to does not have the power to make a decision or sign the contract. If you can, find out who is the decision maker, you can talk to them directly and move things forward.
- Start Anyway – This is the most risky of the options. If you know that time is going to be short and the pressure will be on you, you could start the work without cover. But, the risk is all yours, and this is a last option which should be avoided at all costs.