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Dramatically Expanding the Scope of a Project

A partner for a large professional services firm went to meet with a potential client. The CFO said his company was selling a division, and needed some consulting work done to improve their financial systems. They wanted to sell the division quite quickly, and therefore wanted the work done rapidly.

The partner said to the CFO, “You know, when we do the type of project you’re asking for, we also normally look at two other areas.” He went on to explain what a more expansive project would look like. But the CFO shook his head and replied, “We have to move fast, just give me a proposal for the project I asked you for.”

The partner paused. He then asked the CFO, “I’m curious, hypothetically, if you did have more time before selling this business, what else would you like to fix?” The CFO thought for a moment and said, “Well, if we had more time, there is something else.” He went on to describe another potential project in a related area.

The partner allowed more silence, and the CFO then spoke again: “You know, there’s something else I’d take care before selling it.” He went on to highlight a third project that he would implement—if he had more time.

The CFO thought for a moment, then turned to the partner and said, “So, give me a proposal for all three.” The partner did, and his firm won the engagement. It was more than double the original proposal the CFO had asked for, and much more impactful.


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