THE THREE-PART SECRET: HOW TO GET SELECTED FOR THE BIG COMMISSION
left: self-portrait, Vincent Van Gogh, 1889; center: owl art (image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay); right: a friendly face (image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay)
I have a secret to share. What is the formula to success when your team is being considered for a big contract? It could be your design team being interviewed for a new shopping center, or a law firm being considered for a huge case. Maybe a financial group is to take a start up public, or a real estate company for a national property deal. How to you hit a homerun during the interview and presentations?
Regardless of the industry and the customer, here is my secret. It might sound obvious but follow along. When the team is being interviewed and evaluated, you must bring three people, each with distinct roles. Here is the three-part secret: 1) the Important One, 2) the Smart One, and 3) the Friendly One.
The Important One is usually the boss, the founder of the company, the name on the door. This individual brings gravitas and industry leadership for which all customers seek.
The Smart One is the person that exudes expertise and experience. He is the one that proclaims convincingly, “Don’t worry. Your project is in good hands.” This person reeks confidence and skills. In architecture, she knows Revit, construction documents, budgets, and city codes.
The Friendly One is personable, maybe even a good sense of humor—someone that breaks the ice. Through this interviewee, the client sees that the project doesn’t have to be all work and no play. The Friendly One reminds the client to enjoy the project and the process—that there is a comforting hand and a sincere smile.
Each of these three people must stick to their assigned roles. Any deviation or crossover will confuse the client. No one wants to hear the Important One try to crack a joke. It’s awkward and compromises the presence of a well-respected executive. Additionally, no one wants to see the Smart One try to act important. It’s comes off as insecure or desperate. And the Friendly one will muddy the waters if he tries to spout off construction methods and waterproofing specifications. Stay in your lane.
Also, all three must be present. If only the Important One and Smart One show up—well, sure it will be impressive in terms of resume, facts and figures, but the interviewing committee will probably be bored to death wondering where the human factor is. If the Friendly One shows up with only the Important one, then one might wonder, who is doing the actual hands-on, day-to-day work? And lastly, if there is only the Smart One and the Friendly One, then who will guarantee a masterful project, who will provide the cache behind the project, and who brings the needed clout?
A secret to my secret: The roles can change at any time. Just decide before the interview. If a company has three founders, meaning three Important Ones, they can decide for the upcoming presentation, who will play the important role, and who will play smart vs. friendly.
I have implemented and witnessed this secret three-part formula working nicely over decades. Three people. No more, no less. Each in their roles. Try out the secret and let me know.