Pick Two – The Heart of Giving What the Client Is Asking For

in Small Business

Relative to what your customer buys. If you’re the customer, you’re in the market for a particular product that satisfies a need or want. Your needs revolve around three different parameters. Time: How soon do you want it delivered? Price: What is the lowest price you can negotiate for it? Quality: How good will it be. Here’s the rub…you only get to pick two!

There needs to be a clear understanding of this. You (the buyer) really only have three choices. You can have it fast and cheap but you should understand that you could be sacrificing quality. You can have it fast and great but that requires a lot of resources to deliver, you might have to pay more. You can have it great and at a lower cost but you might have to wait for it.

Very often, the decision to buy precedes the discussion of price, quality and delivery time. The question arises during the course of the project meeting.

Can we get it faster? The inevitable answer is of course. The implied consequence is it will either cost you more or we’ll have to cut some corners. Nothing is free. The discussion should proceed on these consequences.

Can I get it cheaper? The answer again is: “Of Course!” The implied consequence is we’ll have to cut back on our resources, possibly use less experienced resources which may not affect the quality but will definitely take more time. Or we could use different materials, a slower system processor or some other adjustment that will affect the overall quality or performance. But yes, of course, you can have it cheaper. 

Can I get a higher quality product? YUP! It might take us a little longer to deliver if you want to keep the price the same. Alternatively, if you pay for the upgrade, we can add higher quality materials and resources and keep the project on schedule.

There is one other choice that I haven’t mentioned. That is the choice of which company you plan to buy from. But even with that choice, the market is really dictating the balance of price, quality and speed. The differences are subtle and very often your decision on who to buy involves the pick two process before you’ve even realized you made a decision. Here’s a perfect example and I’ll leave it at that. You’re looking for hotels online. If you’re like me you look for positive testimonials and low price. In a peak season, I’ll not compromise on buying from a hotel with at least a dozen 4 or 5 stars. So my decision is between price and availability. If I can’t get a king, I’ll settle for two queens, or a room not facing the beach. You get the idea. The principle applies with every purchase you make.

Your challenge is to make sure your customer understands the principle!