As regular readers of this blog will be aware, this is a special year for Park Lane Research as we celebrate being in business for twenty years. So we’d like to think we’re pretty good at what we do - answering questions and getting questions answered.
But even after two decades, there are still three questions that make us feel a little bit nervous and a little ill at ease. Because they aren’t just questions - they are loaded questions. And they aren’t just loaded questions asked by anyone - they are loaded questions asked by clients and potential clients.
They all sound very innocent when said out loud. Take the first one, very topical at this time of the year; “Hi Barrie, have you been away?” Well, this might sound friendly and innocent enough, but I’ve had clients who’ve sounded me out about potential projects on the basis of whether or not I’ve already been on holiday that year.
So what am I meant to say? I have been away but actually I’m going away again late September (but it’s only for a week!). It might just be a friendly question but I have to consider how my response might fit with whatever he or she might or might not have in mind.
Next there’s the experience question; “Hi Barrie, have you done any work on suspended ceilings?” If I say yes, and divulge my previous client, might this make me more or less relevant to the potential brief? If I say no, does this make me seem like I wouldn’t know how to conduct (or construct, ha ha) a project on suspended ceilings?
And finally there’s the killer question; “Hi Barrie, are you busy?” This is by far the trickiest one to answer. Answer yes and the client or potential client might decide to go elsewhere, assuming I don’t have time for their potential project. Answer no and I sound like I have no clients, no work, and probably no friends either.
So there you have it - three loaded client questions and, even after twenty years in business, I still don’t know how to answer them!
By the way, just in case you’re a client or potential client, I’ve been away, I’ve probably got at least some experience in whatever sector you care to name and I’ve been, well, busy enough…