[thelist] How to Talk Down to the Client (WAS: getting rid ofthe quote builder)

chris hardy lists at semioticpixels.com
Wed Dec 8 17:32:24 CST 2004

It's a lot of extra work to support novice users, but if small businesses
are your target market, then yes, it comes with the territory. 

People hire us because we know what we're doing. They don't need all the
gory details about how *we* do stuff, they just need to be specialists in
their business enough to articulate their process, and we need to then
articulate how our work supports their business process. Then they may need
to follow through by developing some rudimentary computer skills.  

So, getting to my point, I don't think it's necessary to dumb anything down.
Often, I find that when I enter into that "how do I say this in English"
zone, I've already lost their interest waaaaayy back. Losing their interest
is not a hint to dumb down, it's a hint to stop talking about the "how" and
refocus on what's important to them. 

If I haven't lost their interest and they're lost, then obviously they're
missing some critical building block and that needs to be identified (for
example, if they don't have a mental model of a network, they're going to be
confused if I blather on about pros and cons of IIS vs. Apache).

Admittedly, I dream of the day that I can hire an account manager. My last
job included teaching computer skills to adults with cognitive disabilities.
I have to say that many of my former clients (who had disabilites) were so
much more motivated than some of the small business owners I've worked with
that my former clients were more competent. So .... uhhh ... keep a close
eye on motivation.


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