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Can I See a Sample?

Can I See a Sample?

by Frank Roche on September 12, 2008

in Communication

I was talking to a buddy yesterday about him getting asked for samples of his work. He’s a consultant, so the work he does is proprietary and customized for his clients. Asking for samples is naive to say the least, but it’s a crutch that clients sometimes fall back on when they don’t know the real questions to ask.

I was reminded of a couple of pithy answers that JT gave about clients asking for samples. Here’s the first one:

When I worked for the big consulting warehouse, I did executive compensation consulting. I must admit, I was never asked for a sample. I would be asked however to tell them, “what do most people do.” Now this was not, what do most people do, who are in our situation, just what most people do. They asked the particular question because understanding the situation is what costs money.

My stock answer was to tell them I would happily share that information with them but that I hoped they did not merely replicate the activity. I would explain that it is like a pharmacy. You (the client or potential client or soon to be ex-client) are sick. I don’t walk into the pharmacy and say “I’m sick, give me the medicine that people take most.” You need to know what is wrong with you first.

JT, commenting in the same article I wrote last year called The Odd Thing About HR Communication Consulting, said something that runs through my head each time I get asked. And it gives me a laugh.

Next time you are asked for a sample, give it to them. Right on their desk. But be sure to not use the little Dixie cup.

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