Selling Small Dreams

Selling Small Dreams

Sell your customer a small dream. Use it to build trust. Next time they might find reality less scary.

It happens regularly that I get this question:

“Our customers demand fixed price, fixed scope, fixed budget, but we want to be Agile. How can we do that?”

Selling projects where price and scope and budget are all fixed is what I call selling dreams. They are dream projects for customers, because they think they get everything they want. Wonderful! However, like dreams such projects are merely illusions. I’ve been there. Usually the dreams become nightmares.

Reality is different.

Selling reality means educating customers and explaining, patiently, that it’s impossible to predict the effort of doing something that was never done before. That’s it’s best to acquire information about the unknown landscape by making small steps. By forecasting the next steps based on previous steps.

“But our customers will never accept that!”

It is you who accepts the behavior of your customers.

“But how can we just give them an estimate and be Agile too?”

You mean, “How can we sell a dream and make the dream come true?”

Dream on…

If your customer requires that you sell them a dream, you can always say “No”.

Or you can sell your customer a small dream, which is safe-to-fail. Calculate if you are able to survive when the dream becomes a ten-times bigger nightmare. And use that small dream to build trust with the customer. Get them to sleepwalk through reality. Next time they might find it less scary to walk with their eyes open.

Innovation leadership, change practices, and management are always evolving.
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