Every once in a while, a large enterprise organization might come to you, asking about your risk assessment services. The client is looking for a technology they don’t have, an expertise they don’t have, or a quick turnaround they can’t do internally. “Can you help us out?” they ask. It’s a prime opportunity for your security consulting company, and it comes with a prime paycheck. Your next move will either boost your business or bruise it.
“Sure, I can do that!” you say confidently. And with that, you’ve just bruised yourself.
Enterprise clients represent a unique opportunity for physical security consultants, and it’s incredibly easy to bite off more than you can chew. A large contract can give you more stability, a larger income and a stronger reputation. But sometimes you just don’t have the resources, capacity or time to handle the scope of an enterprise engagement.
Ambitious consultants will often convince themselves they can make it work. So they roll the dice, and more often than not they fail the project, or end up with an unhappy client. They’re left with frustration, regret and business losses.
We’ve been there, and we had to learn this lesson firsthand.
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Our Lesson Learned
An enterprise client hired a contractor to complete a security assessment of 500 locations in five months. The contractor enthusiastically signed on, even though they weren’t a security company—they were an architectural firm. So they hired a subcontractor to do all the security assessments, and the subcontractor quickly realized they didn’t have the technology to do the job. So they came to us.
Our technology could handle the scope, and we were able to perform the services. But the scope changed at the last minute, and we weren’t given the basic resources we needed for a successful engagement. We had a choice—walk away from a lucrative opportunity, or try to make it work.
We tried to make it work. Instead, the entire project scope of work was modified so frequently between the prime contractor and the enterprise client, it was impossible to meet the deliverables.
We learned several lessons out of that project. When you’re presented with a prime opportunity from an enterprise client, make sure you play it smart. Here are key steps to make sure you don’t bite off more than you can chew.
Many physical security consultants are afraid to be honest about their capabilities and limitations with big clients. They don’t want to let the big fish get away, and they think acknowledging their limits will lose the contract. But being open and honest from the start will actually set you up for a successful project and a happy client.
Enterprise organizations respect honesty from their vendors—and they’ll hire people they know they can trust. If you can’t do something, just say so. Your clients would rather know what you’re capable of than to expect too much and be unhappy with the results. Being honest doesn’t mean you’ll lose the contract—it means you have the chance to set expectations and turn a big project into a big success.
Find a Solution
If you’re honest about your capabilities and limitations, you’ll position yourself to negotiate for a deal that fits you perfectly. Don’t be afraid to push back on the client to change the scope. More often than not, you’ll be able to reach a compromise that fulfills their needs and wins you the contract. I have often found that a client actually states one thing but means another. This is always fleshed out during the discovery and usually works in our favor.
Be very specific with your clients. Tell them clearly what you can perform, during what time frame, and what the deliverables will be. Go through the details with a fine-tooth comb to make sure everyone is on the same page.
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