If I hear one more person say that this will be a win-win relationship without taking the time to define win-win, I am going to scream. Having a professional editor, has made me painfully aware of my own overuse of cliches. Some are cute, but plenty of them are just plain stupid and overused.
So, if it’s not win-win what is it?
Well, let’s start with the fact that hopefully all your business relationships are win-win if you define “win-win” in a manner similar to this one:
Always figure out how to take care of our partners/customers in a business deal first. By thinking of ourselves last, the deals always have to benefit both parties because we will not settle for less than we are entitled to. – Jim Raffel
In other words, start at the end and work your way backwards. Let’s say, for example, your customer comes to you and says something like: “In order to keep utilizing you as a vendor, we need you to find a way to lower your price by 10 percent.” There are a couple of ways to respond to this.
- While shaking in your boots, say something like: “Sure thing!” Then, drop your price and deal with less margin. Oh, and then you can expect your customer to do the same thing to you next year. Doesn’t sound very “win-win” does it?
- Or you could respond with something like this: “We understand your need to control costs, but we can’t deliver exactly what you’re getting now for 10 percent less. Let’s discuss revising the specs or adjusting the terms or delivery in some fashion so we can both remain profitable.”
See the difference? Option 2 will end up being mutually beneficial or “win-win.” Yes, even in the case where the customer informs you that if you can’t drop your price, you will lose the business. I’d much rather lose business I can’t make money on and let one of my competitors try to do the work profitably.
On the other hand, if you are working with a customer who understands that you also need to be profitable, they will sit down and discuss alternatives. Who knows? By working together, you might even come up with solutions that are more profitable for both of you!
What do you say we drop “win-win” and go with “mutually beneficial?”
In the example above, if I decide not to drop my price by 10 percent and lose the customer, is that really “win-win?” Or is “mutually beneficial” a better description? I lost a customer once; but one I couldn’t run a profitable business by retaining. So while it’s beneficial, it’s hard for me to feel like a winner at that exact moment.