I have enjoyed meeting so many great people in this business. Many are far better engineers and technicians than I will ever be. They offer great service and they have happy clients…they do great work. Only issue is that they can’t win new ones. The more I dig, the more I realize that they have two issues. First, they don’t present themselves as better than their competitors and second, they focus far more on price than they do on value.
Do you have a solution that is more valuable than your competitors or just one that is at a lower cost? To be honest, the only thing that matters is perceived value…..nobody cares how much things cost as long as it is worth more to them! While that doesn’t mean you can charge $500 per user for general PC support, it does mean you can charge more than your competitors and still win the new client! You have to add products, services, guarantees or features that convey value to your client. Ideally, things that don’t materially add to your price or things that will lead them to eventually buy more from you or lower your cost of providing your services. Examples could include a 24x7x365 guarantee where you refund the prorated amount of any downtime. Sounds impressive and will certainly be perceived as valuable, but let’s face it….it doesn’t cost you much of anything in the unlikely event they ever ask you
for it! 4 hours of downtime in a month is 5.4% of the monthly charge….pennies in the grand scheme of things!
Value is also a matter of perception. People can perceive things as more valuable even if they are not. One very effective way to communicate in the IT business is to be more professional. Sharper proposals, better attire and more clean cut salespeople and engineers are very sound examples. If you look sharper, you are perceived as sharper. Clients would obviously pay more for a sharper engineer! It always amazes me how people put looking ‘cool’ ahead of making money. Wearing that Hurley shirt or wrinkled polo could cost you $50 per hour in perceived value….which adds up to $100,000 over the course of a year! In the olden days for our industry, people expected their IT guys to look cool and they trusted Microsoft and our vendors. In the new world, they must trust you to do business with you. You should dress and act more like an accountant or attorney if you want to be paid like one!
Marketing and sales collateral is another area where adding value is so easy. Is your logo impressive? Does your website make you look better and more capable than you are? Is your sales proposal clean, professional and more impressive than your competitors? If not, fix these! Hire a professional person to make you look good if you don’t truly have the skills in house to do it. Invest in perception…it will pay off!
In the end, the most successful service providers offer solutions that add more value than those that don’t…and they charge a premium for it. They also manage perception such that they look and sound better than their peers, thus being perceived as more valuable and paid more as a result. Don’t get caught in the ‘cobbler’s shoes’ dilemma…make sure your customer facing website and sales collateral is better than your peers. Adding more value and being perceived as adding more value will result in making more money for the business owner and for everyone he or she employs. As yourself one question to start…do we look as impressive to those outside our firm as we really are?