Negotiations: Last-Minute Requests and Offline Meetings

One of the common problems for a service company in Indonesia is last-minute requests. For example, suddenly, a potential client says late at night, “Mr. Vavai, please come to the office for a presentation tomorrow…”, and I panic about how to respond. Often, those who make last-minute requests like this are from government agencies, where their superiors have limited time. Like military officers, their command is an obligation to their subordinates. The last-minute requests are a big problem for Excellent, especially for preparation.

The problem is something other than the presentation, like the schedule and who is appointed. For example, the agenda for the next week or month is usually prepared from the previous week or month. We must manage our time between providing support to our current clients or giving presentations to new clients.

Presentations are sometimes more than just by the sales team. It may also need technical explanations, such as data migration, system switch techniques, and support mechanisms. The internal solution is to add basic technical skills to the sales team. However, more precaution is needed to solve the main problem, especially if simultaneous requests exist.

The second problem is requesting direct visits to the client’s office. If this visit is a request for a client who has already made a deal, it’s okay. The problem is if the face-to-face presentation request is made at the beginning of the request. There are many factors that small companies must consider in each cost, including transportation, accommodation costs, time, and energy.

Even a trip to the Jakarta area drains energy and time, as well as the allocation of funds for transportation and meals for staff. The round trip to the client’s office in Jakarta can take half a day alone. This may seem trivial, but if not managed well, many expenses will occur and even disappear if the project is unsuccessful.

Yes, I know this is the risk of the job. We still need to determine which opportunity will become a job and which will fail, but I prefer to anticipate it.

This is the first choice if the client agrees to an online meeting. Online meetings are more optimal than offline meetings if done comprehensively. It saves costs, time, and energy as well.

Offline meetings are not avoided, but offline meetings are prioritized for follow-up work—for example, offline meetings to discuss initial project plans or after completing the project.

My colleague has a startup company in the field of application development. Potential clients asked him several times to come for presentations. From Bandung to Jakarta, it takes at least IDR 500,000 in costs for each trip. The client wanted to avoid being charged for this cost because it was only an offering presentation. In the end, he included the component in the price offer, but unfortunately, the project was unsuccessful.

If you encounter several projects like this, unnecessary expenses become more frequent. These expenses can cause a cash flow bottleneck for the business because the costs are inevitable. At the same time, income is sometimes unavoidable.

Suppose you want to subscribe to a large provider like AWS or Azure, or GCP. In that case, you can only ask them for an offline visit if the value of the project is large enough or if there are specific considerations. So it’s about something other than rude or laziness if our small company prefers online meetings. It is about effectiveness and efficiency for both parties.

For last-minute requests, I check if it is feasible or not in terms of preparedness. If possible and the business opportunity makes sense, I can ask the team to prepare it to maintain business relations, not just for the project itself.

I will communicate and offer alternative options if the conditions are not feasible. It can be an online meeting option or rescheduling the time. This is not without risk, as there are potential clients who feel underestimated if their request is not accepted as is. They do not want an online meeting and do not want to reschedule the time or day. There is a fundamental principle for these conditions: Not all projects must be taken.

Sometimes, the decision not to deal is the best choice for both parties. There is no need to regret it because it may be a way for both parties to maintain a good relationship and work together in the future.

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