Wednesday, November 14, 2007

To the moon

Trying to gain new business is a tricky thing. There are times when there is a clear process with the client. You have a written brief of what they want and how they are going to choose a vendor. Then there are times when it is vague. When the client knows they want something, and in particular want something fairly different and new. So they haul in a number of vendors and see what they have to say.

Just did one of those later types of presentations. We thought we knew what the client wanted, thought we had a pretty good idea how to do it, thought we where presenting good solid leading edge thinking and capability.

Thing was, they weren’t looking for leading edge, they wanted far out there bleeding edge. They wanted something so knew it hadn’t been done before, a rocket ship to take them to Mars. We showed them a rocket ship to take them to the moon.

The sad thing? They need a rocket ship to take them to the moon. It would give them huge benefit, and still put them at the leading edge of corporate development and marketing management. Mars is still achievable, but there are methods that get you to Mars from the Moon. Known technologies used in different ways, think of XXX. It still gets into space, but at a fraction of the cost of the shuttle.

Still, the client wanted Mars. Clearly someone had sold them a pup and said it would get them to Mars, no problem. Just give us the business and we’ll get you there, promise. I’m sure there was no deceitfulness, they had done there homework and were offering what they believed they could build. However, I know this space, what they want no one has done, and is highly, highly risky, and will take years, if not a decade.

Doesn’t matter though, we tried to sell a nice safe trip to the moon. Still risky, but controllable risk. Halfway through the meeting the senior client just stepped in, gave us a little lecture on him really wanting Mars, and after polite enough fair wells, said good bye.

Its nice being the client, you can do that. Not so nice being the vendor who’s spent a rather large amount of money building a plan the client pretty unambiguously didn’t want. Damn shame, we really got it wrong. Almost better not to have pitched, but sometimes you take the chance knowing you’ve got a good answer. Not this time though, we got it wrong.

Onwards, there are other clients who do want to go to the moon, and we know how to get them there.


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