How To Get What You Ask For

In the last post I revealed that the key to becoming a Big Swinging Developer was to realize that you’re now in the sales business (don’t worry, it’s a part time gig, you still get to code) and covered the importance of The Ask.  Another aspect that’s covered in sales training is Overcoming Objections.  In the world of the Big Swinging Developer, there are 3 main objections to overcome:

  • It’s too expensive
  • It’s too much work
  • It’s too risky

There are likely to be other objections that are specific to your situation that are often given the blanket label of "Office Politics".  We’re going to ignore those for the time being — like a Physics teacher ignoring mass and friction to teach a more general concept. 

The objections above are listed in the order in which you’ll need to overcome them.  In a business setting, if something is too expensive, it’s simply not going to be approved.  If something is too much work, that has a loose correlation to being too expensive because the person responsible for approving the work will do a rough calculation in the wages required and throw back the opportunity cost objection.  Risk is the most nebulous objection on the list because it can mean anything from risk of losing money (see also "too expensive") to risk of looking foolish.

As with most posts in the Big Swinging Developer series, there is a key to the solution:

Whenever possible, take on the burden yourself

"It’s too risky" doesn’t hold water once you have a working solution or, in some cases, a prototype.  "It’s too much work" isn’t a barrier once the work is done.  That only leaves "It’s too expensive".  This is where our final sales lesson comes in:

Sell money

Do you need a software component?  Don’t ask for it because it’s really cool and easy to use.  As for it because it will save 20 hours of development work and costs less than 20 hours at the average developer rate.  This is a reversal of the previously mentioned opportunity cost argument.  A faster build machine (or, even better, a farm) won’t necessarily be purchased to make your life easier.  There’s a much better chance of getting the funding if you can show the benefit in monetary terms.  Of course, before you ask you should drive the chances up even higher by using a trial version of the component or setting up a prototype of the build system on your own.  By taking on the burden, you’ll remove the risk and the fear of it being too much work and it will put you in a great position to sell it as money.

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