The Answer You Need

There is bravery in saying “No” when that’s the right response. But our job, especially now, is to help our clients get to “Yes.”

Over the past two decades, we at Astound Commerce have faced a lot of interesting challenges, not least of which has been finding the right way to manage people’s expectations in a manner that honors our company values yet still allows them—and us—to achieve our shared goals.

There have been times when it wasn’t feasible to do what was requested by a client or employee. Our opportunity in these moments was, instead of giving a hard “No,” to instead do a great job of sharing the reasoning behind the challenges of the situation—so that it was seen not as preventing people from getting what they want, but as enabling them to achieve great results with some modification of the ask.

Today’s challenges are unprecedented, to say the least—but that basic tenet, of facing hard truths in pursuit of shared success, remains the same. The art of managing relationships depends heavily on how you build and maintain trust in your interactions. And we’ve been building trust with our clients and our partners for 20 years.

The way we build that trust is simple: through hard work, day in and day out, discussing with our clients what they want to accomplish, explaining to them what can and cannot be accomplished, reaching agreements on how we’ll accomplish their needs and their business goals, and then keeping those commitments and delivering on them. That’s the lifecycle of building trust, and it repeats on a monthly and yearly basis, but it also repeats on an hourly basis. At every moment, we stand by our clients in the face of extreme challenges, such as those we face today, and in typical times as well, when they just need to continue running and operating their businesses and continue competing in the marketplace.

A major part of what has earned us the trust of our clients is the fact that they know they can rely on us to tell them what’s feasible and what’s not, and how their dreams and goals can come to fruition. How can we arrive at achievable results that fit their overall business needs and business vision, but in a sustainable way? This approach requires us not to say yes to everything. Because we have a unique view into all the complexities associated with delivering the various solutions they want to implement, often a simple yes is not the right answer.

It is our responsibility as a trusted advisor and partner to tell them honestly, with integrity, what is reasonable, what is possible, how much effort will be involved, and what the timeline will look like for execution.

At this point, most brands understand the difficulties that lie ahead in light of the ravaging effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the world’s population, the global economy, and the livelihoods of business owners and consumers everywhere. But the panic that may have been present in the early months of the crisis has subsided, and now we’re all starting to think about the long term.

This situation may have changed much about our way of life. But from my point of view, nothing changes in terms of the Astound way. We need to operate based on our core values of integrity, respect, passion, commitment, teamwork, continuous improvement, and shared success. These core values translate into truly taking care of the needs of our clients in a way that is in line with the overall integrity of delivering quality work for their businesses. The Astound way has led us through the challenges and the economic downturns of the previous two decades, and I’m confident it will lead us through this challenge and future challenges. The best is yet to come.

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Ilya Vinogradsky

Ilya Vinogradsky is chief technology officer and executive vice president of commerce delivery at Astound Commerce.

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