How to say yes... however....?

Two questions... sorry to be greedy!

1) How do you answer a client's question when they are asking if you can do X however in doing X you need ABC which you don't have. I find myself having to do this often and it doesn't seem very effective!

2) If a client asks for almost anything we have to direct them to a 'change control' process which is a right pain for them (add huge delay). This frustrates them hugely but isn't in my circle of influence to change. Is there a better way of handling this?

Hold their hand

I don't really have any useful suggestions on the first question -- I struggle with it too.  Usually all the question asker is filtering on is 'yes' or 'no', and won't hear anything else you say regardless of how you say it.  Even getting it in writing doesn't help.  If you're confident enough, you can say "no" and negotiate -- when you say no, you get their attention.  However, if saying no is going to do some damage, the risk likely isn't worth it.  There's also the possibility that the client can't actually *give* you ABC, in which case there's a whole other set of issues involved.

For the second question, though, I'd recommend working out a way that you can take some of the load off the client by taking on some of the change control fluff.  Presumably you have a better idea of what's involved in getting stuff through change control (if you deal with it regularly for many different clients, you get a lot more practice at it) and so you can help smooth the road, even if the client has to do *some* of the work, they can be more closely guided by your advice and avoid a lot of the pitfalls and frustrations.

Yes, and...

Would it work to use, "Yes, and...?"  It might sound something like, "Yes, I can give you X.  While it sounds straightforward on the surface, I'll need your help getting ABC.  Is that something I can rely on you for?"


I think Michael has a better

I think Michael has a better answer than I did for #1, so I'll just back him up.

For #2, one of my favorite sayings:The problem is almost never solved by focusing on the pain point.

You are focused at the point of the customer asking you a question. One goal is to have them asking the right person the question in the first place. Maybe they are not aware of who needs to be asked. Maybe their expectations are not set properly. Maybe they are just easily frustrated and this is their target.

Your task is to find out how you can get them what they need, ideally with as little frustration on their part as possible. It doesn't mean that they won't be frustrated at all (because only they can control that, not you).