It was a simple enough request: The pastor said, “Please come help us set up our new equalizer. We just bought this piece of equipment and we want to make sure our church sounds right.”
Turns out, it wasn’t that simple.
This is a lesson in asking the right questions at the right time—both as an advisor and as a client.
When I arrived at the site, the pastor with whom I had talked on the phone greeted me, and as we walked through the church we talked about the size of the congregation and the kinds of music they have in their services. Then we arrived at the sanctuary.
“Um… I’m not seeing any speakers,” I said innocently. “What kind of sound system are you putting the equalizer into?”
“Oh, we don’t have a sound system,” came the reply.
Apparently, the pastor had called the local MI company and described some of the acoustical problems the church was experiencing. In their zeal to make a sale the company had sold the church an equalizer without asking some very fundamental questions.
We advised the pastor to return the equalizer and ask for a full refund. What he was really owed was a sincere apology.
When it comes to engaging a client, we always ask the critical, sometimes obvious, questions. This is because we truly believe it’s about the client (their needs) and not about us (our sale). If we’re a good fit for the project and we can bring value to the process, the details of getting hired will all fall into place. But until we get to know the client, understand their circumstances, and discover their true needs, no one should be selling (or buying) anything.