Did you know that the month March was actually named after Mars, the Roman god of war? In the northern hemisphere, March is the month where Spring begins, and traditional outdoor activities such as agriculture and warring can resume. In fact, the Pentagon still almost always chooses March as the month to begin military campaigns.
As you begin your own strategic campaigns this month, don’t let clients or prospects go to war with you over pricing.
Trust me, I understand the struggle all too well as a business owner myself. Recently I was in a sales meeting with a prospect who desperately needed my company’s help. They had no backups, virtually no security, and had already been the target of several phishing attempts. Amid our discussion, the prospect asked, “Is there anything you can take out of your stack to get quote down?”
Imagine going to see a new specialty doctor. As you sit there in the exam room you explain that you want him to manage your existing diabetes situation, but you don’t want to pay his practice’s rates. You tell him that other doctors in the area are cheaper. The doctor responds, explaining that the other doctors in the area are general practitioners, not diabetes specialists. You have a debilitating condition that requires the proactive care of a specialist who went through many years of training for that particular designation and still goes to training for it. He has built his entire practice around the specialty care he can provide that other doctors cannot. There is nothing this doctor could ‘remove from his stack’ to reduce cost, without seriously harming his patients.
Similarly, there is nothing I can remove from my service stack without seriously compromising security and my own integrity. As a trusted technology advisor, it is my job to give an honest report of what a prospect needs in their IT environment. They need great anti-virus and anti-malware protection, they need unified threat management, they need a business-grade managed firewall, they need a secure server, they need backup and disaster recovery, they may need to meet certain compliancy regulations such as HIPAA, etc. Sure I could lighten my stack, leave a few things out, and sell a TON (some other IT companies actually do this); but, if I removed any single item from the list to ‘cut costs’, I would be like the diabetes specialist saying “Well, I can prescribe you the blood glucose monitor, but not the insulin.” In the end you pay less, but the problem is still there.
Remember: It is your professional obligation to deliver the services people need, not the ones they want to pay for. If a client or prospect cannot see your value, but only the price tag, they are not a good fit for your business. Period. Do not allow price wars to compromise your reputation of quality service. You may not end up winning every prospect with this mindset, but the ones you do win will be people you actually want to do business with.
One more thing to think about::
If your clients and prospects are struggling to see your company’s value, chances are they see you as an expense, not an asset. Many companies see IT as an expense they have to pay every moth just like their water bill. This is not the type of prospect I would pursue. I want clients who see TotalCare IT as an asset. Technology is so integral to our everyday life now that every business decision you will make will affect your IT, whether you realize it or not. Seeing your IT team or company as part of your business, just like HR or Accounting, will dramatically change the way projects are handled, budgets are made, and systems are optimized.
Give your clients and prospects a reason to see you as their asset. This starts with giving them the information they need to hear, not the information they want to hear. After all, you are an expert in your field and your clients are looking to you for trustworthy information.
Beware the Ides of price-warring March.