Using Your Prospect’s Input
There are certain aspects of the project you decide:
There are aspects of the project you may allow your client to help design:
1. Aesthetic issues
Avoid the Puma
You choose the products. You choose how they’re installed. That’s not up for discussion. If the prospect has product suggestions, steer them to your choices. Why is this important? Because you cannot control the project unless you control the products. It’s that simple.
Like the trail guide, you choose the path. If a hiker asks to go up the north side of the hill, and you know it’s the home of a man-eating puma, you say, “No, that’s the home of a man-eating puma. We’ll take the south side.” The same is true with your AV design. When a prospect asks if he can have a system design you don’t favor—or products you won’t carry—tell him “no,” explain why you’ve made the choices you have, and move on. There’s no reason to dwell on the danger the puma poses. It’s a puma.
Letting a prospective client choose products makes you no more than a glorified valet. You lose control of performance, of interoperability, and of success. Letting the client dictate even one product you don’t carry is a mistake. Avoid the puma.
Most clients don’t want to choose the products. That’s what they hired you for. If they enjoy shopping for furniture, if they keep swatch books, if they tour model homes on weekends, then they don’t need an interior decorator. If your clients spend time browsing stereo magazines, if they build ham radios for fun, if they spend weekends in Circuit City, they aren’t your clients. They know where the pumas are, and don’t need your guidance. But your clients, the clients who need guidance, want to make two choices: the first is with whom to work. The second is aesthetic. Clients want to choose their system interface—and determine how it looks in the home. Remember: no negotiating on this point.