CAD Manager's Newsletter (#457)

18 Nov, 2020 By: Robert Green

Soft Skills for CAD Managers: Handling Objections

Are your users complaining about their software? Is upper management pushing back on the cost? Are the PMs griping that things are moving too slowly? Here's how to cope.

In the previous edition of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I began a periodic series on the soft skills required to be an effective CAD manager. We kicked things off with a look at the must-have skills of speaking and presenting. This time around, I'll share my approaches to another soft skill that I have found extremely helpful — handling objections — by giving some practical illustrations using real-life CAD management scenarios to illustrate the concepts. Here goes.

Objections, Objections Everywhere

It seems like everybody has their objections. Managers, users, accounting personnel, project managers, vendors, and even CAD managers themselves all have complaints and objections about how our CAD ecosystems work — or don't work. And if objections are a fact of life, then it stands to reason that dealing with them is a soft skill we should all work on. But how can we best do that?

This question brings me to my ground rules for handling objections in a way that provides maximum resolution and minimum hassle:

• You can't fix everything. Don't take all the burdens on yourself — you can't handle everyone's objections alone, and you'll just get burned out if you try. Pace yourself and remember that no matter how effective you are, you'll never entirely eliminate objections!
• You must speak to the right people, at the right time, and in the right language. Users speak CAD, accounting speaks money, project managers speak scheduling, management speaks profit, etc.
• You can establish departmental linkages to help resolve issues. You'll need to think differently — more strategically — to make this happen, but you can do it if you try.
• You must recommend solutions based on data, not opinion. When armed with the right information to support your recommendations, you can align the different players inside the company (management, accounting, etc.) to overcome objections.

Now, are you ready to develop some new soft skills for objection handling? Let's get started.

Common Objections

The main thing I've learned about objection handling is that I need to understand what types of objections come from each different area of the company that I deal with. If I know what to look for, I can listen better, and listening carefully is a key part of objection handling. Here are the objections I hear most often from each group:

Users. They are under too much pressure to be billable and/or get done with projects, which means they have no time to deal with things like standards, attending training, etc.

Managers. Cost and complexity are the thorns in their side. As far as management is concerned, whatever we're doing always costs too much and is too hard to learn — which they object to strenuously, because it drives job costs up.

Project managers (PMs). They're usually striving to "just get it done fast," and they object to anything that slows down their schedule — even if it's required to get the job done right.

Vendors. You aren't buying their software — or not enough seats of it, or not frequently enough, or not the newest thing they're selling.

Accounting. Always pressuring you for cost reductions, and willing to compromise functionality in exchange for false savings (these choices seem to save money up front, but end up costing more in the long run).

CAD managers. Usually stressed out and objecting to all the objections above!

When you think of all these different personas and the wide variety of objections they have, it is a wonder that CAD managers aren't driven crazy. Well, to be fair, some of us do feel that way, but the savvy CAD manager can use these objections as leverage to make things work better. Interested? Read on. Read more »

Tools and Resources

Prepare Yourself for CAD Management 3.0
According to CAD management expert Robert Green, we're now in the midst of the third major change wave in CAD management (CM 3.0). More a summation of several smaller trends than a single driving trend, CM 3.0 will place new demands on CAD managers and redefine what it takes to compete in the field. To be effective, CAD managers must analyze, adapt, and gain new skills in a never-ending quest for improvement.

Cadalyst has published a 24-page guide that collects seven columns from Green's series on CM 3.0, addressing topics ranging from standards and workflows to the psychology of CAD users and the many languages CAD managers need to speak. Download this free guide to learn which skills and strategies you need to be prepared for the changes coming your way.

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DraftSight Insights: Lynn Allen Gives AutoCAD Users a Quick Tour of DraftSight
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About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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