I was speaking with a client last week, discussing sales approaches. The company is carrying a new line of product and his sales team is apprehensive about the change. “I get where they’re coming from. We don’t have anything sold to point the client to as far as experience goes, and that makes me nervous,” he revealed over lunch. The problem with technology and selling new systems is the ever changing nature of the product and the reality someone has to take a chance. I told him the product doesn't really matter. The client doesn't come to the company for the product (honestly, they could get it just about anywhere), they come to the company for the expertise and experience they believe is represented with everyone there.
Companies undervalue themselves all the time. I often see this heavily in the consulting-side of things. Consultants charge fees which are much lower than they should be because they lack the vision of what they’re delivering. They underestimate the overall value of what they deliver and how their direct work will greatly impact the client's growth and success. Companies (especially sign businesses) are the experts and consultants to their clients and they seriously undervalue everything the whole team delivers. Engineered and designed job prints are drafted for a quote to a customer who might not buy anything at the end of the day. Work is done (site surveys, location studies, etc.) which a client won’t get charged for if they decide to go with the competition or just drop the job completely.
A sign company brings a lot to the table. Most sign companies are designing and creating an entire image for the business (often from scratch) and yet they only charge for the sign work. When you’re speaking with a client, look at everything which goes into creating that sign for the job. If you review all the work completed to get a sign finished and installed and look at the actual cost of the sign, you’ll realize a lot of the work is under-priced. While I'm not advocating you make them pay for this (and raise the rates), definitely show them what you're doing and how much you bring to the table for them.
Take a moment sometime and ask an advertising company how much they charge for a graphic, how much do they charge for logos or an ad campaign. You’ll be floored at their hourly rate for work which might never see the light of day. They've figured it out. They’re saying, “Our time is valuable and we demonstrate the value so you can feel it’s worth the money.”
Don’t worry about the new product on the block, figure how it fits within your company. Make sure it’s a solid fit and the manufacturer meets the needs your company has to ensure the end-user is completely satisfied at the end of the day. Your client’s image is your business and whatever you put up was sold because the client believes in you, not some manufacture of a widget. Take the lead, show the value and make sure you get what you deserve. Too often we undersell ourselves and by doing so, we leave the table feeling a little unhappy. When you build off the value of your business (your expertise, experience, knowledgeable staff and solid crew), you’ll find you win more deals at better margins than when you sell on price or product alone.
*I invite you to comment here and/or email me directly with requests at firstname.lastname@example.org. Vantage LED has white paper resources and more educational material on the website (http://www.vantageled.com), please check it out when you have a moment. Note all posts/thoughts/writings are strictly the viewpoint of me and me alone and do not reflect nor speak for Vantage LED’s beliefs, attitudes, thoughts, etc. unless specifically stated.