A Rose By Any Other Name

People want their problems and needs taken care of, they don’t necessarily know or care about the technical terms, widgets or solutions used to solve them.

by | September 2, 2013       << Back to Blog    

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I was in a Lego store the other day with my son when a lady walked in and asked the salesperson if they had Lego “planes”.  Her 3 year old son wants to “put mini figures inside a plane”.  The salesperson said they didn’t have passenger planes but they did have a cargo plane, however you can't put figures inside it.  The lady was about to walk out the store when she saw something on a shelf and asked the salesperson “what about this one?” Salesperson says... “that's a space shuttle”. Lady responds...“it has wings and looks like you can put the figures inside”.  He said “yes”. She bought it.

People want their problems and needs taken care of, they don’t necessarily know or care about the technical terms, widgets or solutions used to solve them. 

As an expert in your field, you need to learn to listen to your prospects’ requirements in their own words and then interpret them to find the best possible solution to their underlying problem or need.  It’s important to differentiate between business, functional and technical requirements.  Sometimes prospects unknowingly bundle them all together in their conversations with you.  As a certified project manager (PMP), I’ve developed a keen eye to gathering requirements from non-technical people and translating them into what makes the most business sense.  But you don’t have to be a project manager to do this. Practice your listening skills and don’t assume your prospect knows exactly what they want, even if they mention it by name.  Read between the lines and ask yourself what is really the underlying problem or need to be solved.  Remember the famous quote from Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet - “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. In the case of this lady at the Lego store, a space shuttle would be just as fun to her 3 year old because it had wings and he could put mini figures inside it.
 



About Fernando Sosa
Fernando Sosa is a technology consultant, project management professional, and software developer who helps small businesses and nonprofit organizations make the most of their information technology resources.


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