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Stand by Your Value

Explaining the value behind your fees.

I once thought, for a brief moment, that I was going to build a deck. Mind you, I’m not talking about a large or overly complicated structure – just a rectangular deck big enough to hold a grill, a table and four chairs. Oh, and it had to be able to hold people without plunging them to their collective deaths.

So I did what every child of the advertising age does. I went to Home Depot and took a class.

The leader of the class, Russ, was very helpful in showing how “anyone can build a deck.”

Anyone except me, that is. I left the class confident only in my ability to find a contractor.

In retrospect, I think he was mostly right. Anyone with contracting experience and a bit of talent can build a deck.

I have found the “experience + talent” formula to be a requirement with most things. Most every endeavor requires both talent and an unexpectedly complicated scope of work.

Yet frequently, I’ve seen customers try to negotiate my clients’ pricing downward by taking a “how hard could it be?” attitude.

They minimize the complexity of the work not as an insult, but rather out of ignorance.

After all, if the customer were skilled in the field, he wouldn’t need my client’s services in the first place.

As the vendor, companies have three options:

  1. Accept the downward price reduction.
  2. Walk away from the business.
  3. Educate the buyer.

I’d choose option three every time.

Too few companies make the commitment to educate their customers on the time, talent, and attention necessary to make the magic happen.

And it is magic – the act of creating something for someone that that person could not do solo.

Anyone can focus on money. The trick is to focus on the customer’s underlying set of assumptions about value.

If an honest conversation is had, the assumption always comes down to the mistaken view by the customer that negates the more complicated aspects of the work.

So, the next time someone asks you to “sharpen your pencil” or calls you discuss price, see if you can turn the conversation to address the true scope of work and the talent necessary to pull it off.

What most customers want is value. They only tend to disguise it by talking about price.

 

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  • Elise Saltzberg

    I generally choose option #3, but only up to a point. I am happy to take the time to educate the buyer if they are interested in being educated. If after awhile it becomes clear that the buyer is not educable, then I revert to option #2 and walk away.

    • Thank you for taking the time to comment, Elise. I put a great deal of emphasis on educating the client (buyer). After all, they should understand the value of their purchase. The challenge, however, is to stay on the right side of that line between educating and pushing. I never want to take that “what can I do to put you in a used car today?” approach. Most often (unfortunately), I find that a discussion intended to educate clients away from the mindset they had coming in, has less than optimal results. If they agree, they may feel that they’ve been talked into something. If they walk, they walk.

      For me, I’ve often found that the best result is if I try to educate and, with anything other than an enthusiastic response, I encourage them not to engage us. If instead I encourage them to leave, consider their options, and call us if they’re ready, we have a much higher success rate. After all, ours is a long-term engagement.