Fatal Mistakes of Cutting Your Price

Everyone has had the experience of wanted a job so badly that they make the most elementary of mistakes. This is, in part, what keeps management consultants in business. I just experienced this first-hand and it moved me to write this post. (I won’t disclose the contractor). They had sent out a bid for some home plumbing work. The bid was over $750 which was significantly more than I had expected. When they followed up I told them that their bid seemed out of my price range. Then came their error–they quickly responded, “What if I can get it down below $600? I am playing with the numbers and I can shave off some of the time. I always figure extra time in for the “uh-oh” type moments.” Really–that is what they replied. So I guess they just were going to screw me with the original bid! I will NEVER use them again for anything.

So what do you do when you want a job and price seems the issue? Rule #1: NEVER LOWER YOUR PRICE WITHOUT TAKING SOMETHING OFF THE TABLE! Doing so simply makes you a whore. His mistake came up front–his bid should have clearly stated the scope of work. Then he could have lowered his price by “taking something off the table.” For example: the bid includes a 5-year warranty of the parts and labor. He could justify lowering the price by telling me that if he took the warranty down to 90-days the price would be less. That maintains the integrity of his first bid (and of his company!) Rule #2: See Rule #1. You cannot just dicker price with a client and maintain your integrity. If one time McDonalds allowed you to get a Big Mac for 50 cents all you would feel is ripped off for every other Big Mac you have ever (or will ever) bought.

In this case, if he really wanted (needed) the job and since he didn’t have a “fall back” he should have said, “I don’t know if we bid your job properly–let me take another look at different ways we could do it and see if there is a less expensive option.”

To get a review by The Fremont Group and see if there are ways that working with a small business management consultant could make you more money give us a call! 303 338 9300

Editorial Policy

We urge everyone—business owners, consultants, employees, investors—everyone to toss in their two cents on topics and we encourage all of the amateur and professional consultants to submit they suggestions as to possible solutions to their issues.

Disclaimer—the posts and comments do not represent the endorsement of The Fremont Group nor will the opinions expressed represent the opinions of The Fremont Group.  The Fremont Group will monitor posts and comments to block those that are offensive, malicious, or are personal attacks upon individuals or companies.  Any person who sees such a post and feels that it meets this criteria should contact us immediately.

How Customers Decide to Buy

Reposted from Inc Magazine article by Geoffrey James

Before they plunk down the money, customers make these five exact decisions–in this exact order. Your job is to help them do so.

Do you ever wonder what’s going on inside your customer’s head? There’s actually a pretty systematic process that most prospective customers go through, says Duane Sparks, author of Selling Your Price.

Before making the decision to buy, he says, customers go through the following five distinct “decision-making” thought processes:

1. Do I want to do business with this person?  Who is this person, really? Do I trust him? Do I like her?

2. Do I want to do business with this firm? Are they reputable? Are they credible? Do I have a history with them?

3. Do I want and need these products and services? Is there a problem that they solve? Is there a goal that they make possible?

4. Does the value meet my expectations? Will I get a quick return on my investment? Is the price in line with other offerings? Is this a unique solution?

5. Is this the right time to make a decision? Is there a reason to buy now? Is the problem about to explode? Is an opportunity slipping past?

This pattern plays itself out in every sales-oriented conversation. Take cold calls, for instance, where the goal is to make an appointment for a more substantive sales conversation.

Decisions in a Cold Call …

In a cold call, the customer makes the first decision based upon the tone and confidence in the caller’s voice. The customer then makes the second decision based upon brand awareness (e.g. “I’m from IBM”) or a short description of what your company has done for a firm whose name is familiar to the customer (“We just helped Acme …”).

After interest is piqued, the customer then makes the third decision based upon the benefits stated in the first few sentences. (“… save $1 million in inventory costs.”)

The fourth decision is not whether to buy, but whether to have a conversation about the possibility of buying.  The customer now makes that decision, followed by a decision about whether  to conduct the conversation now or delay it to later.

See?  Customers makes those decisions in that exact order.  It’s the way their minds work.

… Or in a Sales Presentation

Here’s another example: a sales presentation to large group of decision makers.

The audience makes the first and second decisions based upon the reputation of the presenter and the presenter’s firm. Often that reputation is “borrowed” from the respected members of the group who are sponsoring the presentation. (“Joe, our CFO, invited us to hear this guy speak.”)

The actual sales presentation–if it’s a good one, that is–carries the burden of first defining/clarifying needs, then presenting a solution, and finally explaining why this is the right time to buy.

Get the Process Right

There’s an important lesson here.  In order to sell effectively, you need to focus on helping the customer make each decision in the proper order.  If you try to “jump the queue” and force a decision that naturally comes later, you’ll end up delaying the sale or even losing it.

For example, in a cold call, if you start talking about price before the customer has decided whether you’re trustworthy, the customer will almost always assume that you’re trying to “pull a fast one.”

Similarly, if you start talking about problems and solutions to a group of people who don’t believe you’re a credible person from a credible firm, you’re simply wasting everybody’s time.  The decision-makers won’t listen–in fact, they can’t, because their minds are still spinning around on “Can I trust this guy?”

Establishing Credibility

By the way, the need to establish credibility (i.e., decisions No. 1 and 2) is why many presenters begin by introducing themselves and their companies. However, it’s much better if “your reputation precedes you,” so that the first two decisions are already made before you present.

For example, in a cold call, if you’re talking to a prospective customer as the result of a referral from somebody whom that customer trusts, you can move directly to decision point No. 3, because the first two have already been fulfilled.

Similarly, if you’re presenting to a group of people, make certain that as many attendees as possible have “endorsed” your presence and that the invitation to the meeting includes the information that establishes trust and credibility.

Business Boot Camp—Are You Ready?

Are you ready for 2012? Has the last year gone as you planned? Measure twice; cut once is an expression that applies just as aptly to your business as it does to construction. You may not have achieved all you thought you would in 2011 but don’t let a lack of preparation be the cause of a repeat in 2011. You can decide to do everything possible to change in 2012 or choose to just see what happens. Start off right

The Fremont Group offers their “Business Boot Camp” to all members. You will be assigned a Success Partner who, in one week, will tear your business apart and lay out a plan for SUCCESS IN 2012. They are not “yes men” so be prepared. The Fremont Business Boot Camp is not a seminar—it is an intensive implementation package designed to implement change; not talk about it. If you are not committed to change you should not enlist.

Who is eligible:

Your company must have more than 5 employees and have been in business more than two years. (Call for separate camps for start-up and small firms.)

You must be a “working owner” who is open to change.

You may not have more than 100 employees.

What you will get:

  • Your entire company will become focused and “on the same page.”
  • Obstacles to achieving your results will be aired, addressed and the entire organization will be utilized to eliminate those obstacles.
  • Employee productivity will increase through “buy in” and proper use of accountability and incentives.
  • You will have a clear game plan that is designed to “win the game.” You will no longer be the football coach with a game plan that says, “if everything goes right we will only lose by a touchdown.”
  • What the bank wants to know and how to present it.
  • You will have a foundation for long-term success.
  • Your organization will have a new appreciation of your role as owner of the company.

How you will get it (Sample Agenda):[1]

Monday

Morning: Introduction to staff and tour facility. Meet with owners and key employees and distribute Minding My Own Business questionnaires. Gather financial information.

Afternoon: Identify your goals for 2012 and become familiar with your operations. Gather questionnaires and any additional information needed to complete a SWOT analysis of the company.

Evening: Success Partner completes financial analysis and analysis of the company and analysis of company morale and organizational issues.

Tuesday

Breakfast: Success Partner and Head of Accounting

Morning: Meet with owners to review their analysis of current financial position. Present Accounting 101 to owners and financial staff (if required). Establish company budget and KPI’s. Assign Head of Sales to prepare a summary of the company’s “Sales System” for presentation on Wednesday.

Afternoon: Review the findings from the Employee questionnaires and interviews with owners. Contrast those findings with the owner’s perceptions. Identify current methods of employee accountability and incentives and develop the framework for desired methods of employee accountability and incentives.

Evening: Owners take Success Partner and key personnel to dinner—informal discussion.

Wednesday

Breakfast: Success Partner and Head of Sales

Morning: Review with owners the presentation of the current “Sales System”

Review company goals and re-write them as required. Present SWOT analysis for discussion (Strengths; Weaknesses; Opportunities and Threats). Determine how these should be presented to the staff.

Afternoon: Company meeting. Present SWOT analysis. Review findings of the first two days. Solicit input from the organization. Conclude with the establishment of a management committee (companies with more than 10 employees) and their first meeting.

Evening: Success Partner completes first draft of Action Plan.

Thursday

Breakfast; Success Partner and Head of Operations.

Morning: Meet with Management Committee (or owner in companies with fewer than 10 employees) to identify the five greatest issues facing the company and potential solutions. Review with owner and head of sales critique of the “Sales System.”

Afternoon: Meet with owners to develop a plan to address those issues. Develop a complete Action Plan for 2010. Establish benchmarks for progress.

Evening: Success Partner prepares formal Action Plan for presentation.

Friday

Breakfast and Morning: Meeting with owners to review presentation of Action Plan to the company. Presentation of the Action Plan in full company meeting. Wrap up.

How to enlist:

Call The Fremont Group at (303) 338 9300 and tell them you are ready for Boot Camp. Registration Fee is $9995 plus $500 for non-local travel; $100 for local travel. The travel and $4,000 non-refundable deposit is required to hold a date; balance due at the first meeting. Preferred method of payment is PayPal on this site. Companies who are members receive their discount.


[1] The agenda assumes that you business has a person who is the head of accounting; head of sales; and head of operations. In smaller companies the owner may double as this person. Other “tweeks” in the agenda normally have to be made to accommodate the unique situations in each company.

Dirk Dieters to speak to Lone Tree Chamber

Dirk Dieters, founder and Executive Director of The Fremont Group is speaking Tuesday, October 11, 2011 to the meeting of the Lone Tree Chamber of Commerce.  The meeting is in the Lone Tree Library at 7:30 am and is open to the public.  Mr. Dieters’ topic is “Selling in a Recession.”  Mr. Dieters recently completed a successful series of “Lunch and Learn” workshops for the Aurora Chamber of Commerce.

HIGHRISE CONTACTS, NOTES, CATEGORIES, TASKS, DEALS AND TAGS

The Fremont Group is recommending the use of Highrise as a preferred CRM program. It is the program that we use in our offices. This memo is intended to help you install, run and get the maximum benefit from the small investment.  To try Highrise for free click on the icon on the right sidebar.

Part one–Introduction

What is Highrise?

  • Highrise is Customer Relations Management (CRM) software. For those of you stuck in 1999, CRM software is used to coordinate your sales effort. Every sales lead is entered into the system and every time a sales lead is “touched” (any contact with them) the information is entered in the program. Therefore you develop a running log of all contacts that you company has had with every sales lead. This information is then readily available to anyone you choose to allow to see it—or not.
    • The benefit of having this information should be obvious. A phone call comes in from a sales lead and anyone who answers the phone can immediately know what has been said to the person and the status of the lead.
    • A second benefit is the concentration of all information about all of your sales leads in the same place. You only have to go to one place to find out email addresses (and send emails), phone numbers, addresses, maps, and all documents that you have associated with that person.
    • Lastly—what no one wants to think about—you have a significant CYA document. A record of everything done with a lead.
  • The second major function of the software is to significantly improve communications within your company. Beyond the obvious sales applications, the software allows you to create a “flow of events.” Every time a note is entered into the system a follow up task is entered with it. Then someone becomes responsible for following up to everything and there is a written record of the follow up to eliminate disputes.
    • The benefit of this is to eliminate the “cracks” where sales were lost simply because no one followed something up.
    • Secondly it saves significant time looking for things—everything gets posted on the software.

Why Highrise?

  • Highrise is “Cloud-Based.” This means that the program itself is never put on your own hardware—it is stored by the company on their server.
    • The first benefit of a cloud-based program is no one can screw up the program! It is impossible for someone to corrupt the program.
    • The second benefit is you never have to pay for up-dates. The program gets automatically up-dated from time to time without cost or time on your part.
    • The third benefit is that it can be accessed anywhere you can get on the internet. You can work from home, you can work odd hours, employees can check it on the way in, you can get it on your I Phone—anywhere you can get on the internet.
  • Price. Some companies spend nearly $100,000 on software that is only 10% better than Highrise and Quickbooks. And this doesn’t count up-dates, training and maintenance. You will probably spend less than $50 per month on Highrise. The downside is that you do have to pay the bill every month on your credit card or you lose your system.
  • Simplicity. If Playschool had built a CRM program it would look a lot like Highrise. You will have diverse levels of employee sophistication on the computer—trust me—anyone can run this.

How do I try it?

Go to our web site—www.tfginfo.org. On the right sidebar is an “ad” for Highrise. If you sign up there you will get a free month. If you don’t like it, don’t pay after the first month and you will not be billed.

Do I need training?

It helps. The Fremont Group will help you but first listen to the tutorial pages, read this memo, and have someone with some CRM (or at least basic computer skills) start playing with it. Remember you can’t hurt it. The issues in this memo will help you in setting it up.

Part two—Getting started

First listen to all the tutorials. They go a little fast so listen to them a couple of times. You need to get to know the “vocabulary” of the program. They are defined below but make sure that you know what the Dashboard, a Contact, a Note, a Task, a Category, a Deal and a Tag are.

Decide who should have access. There are some limits to be aware of. There is a significant price jump ($50/month) for having over 15 users. Start slow. The person who originally signs in and put s up their credit card becomes the “account owner.” The account owner and anyone you designate as an administrator have the power to modify the program—and invite or delete users. You should have at least one other administrator just in case.

When you invite a user, an email goes out to them. They get the instruction regarding how to sign in and how to create their own password. You will not need their password—but they will. Make sure they have saved their sign in and their password.

Make everyone up load a picture of themselves. It personalizes the system. You are the owner. As the owner you have some abilities that others do not. Go to “My Info” on the top right. On this page you will be able to receive alerts (as others can) but you also have the ability to Export data—this exports all of the data in the system to a zip file for backup. (Assume it will never happen but this is a good idea if you are about to be cut off for non-payment and it is simply good form to do so once in a while.) On that page is also information regarding dropboxes. This is for sending emails remotely back to the system. If you really are good you will understand and do this; if you aren’t don’t worry about it.

You can delete a user very quickly and easily. If a person leaves the company you can cut off their access immediately by editing the “Users” page. In addition, you should create “Groups.” A Group is simply a group of users that have something in common. The Board of Driectors, the Sales People, the Operations People, or whatever is appropriate in your company. This simplifies the control of access or sending of emails.

Then go to Settings. There you can play with it—you can always change it. Pull up your logo; enter your USP after your company name, choose your color scheme—customize it to suit yourself.

****hint. It might be useful for people not to use their regular email accounts for work. It can be fine but some people (myself included) have separate email accounts for work, for personal, and for sort-of-junk. Ask people what email account they want to use. If you are providing them from work use that, or, what we do, is set up a gmail account for each person as their “work” email.

Part three—terms

There are a number of terms that you must understand.

(Note—there is an introductory page that you can eliminate once you don’t need it. It will not be discussed here.)

DASHBOARD

The Dashboard is simply a running log of all entries made in the system.

CONTACTS

Your Contacts are all the persons and companies that you have as leads or with whom you do business. In other words—everyone.

Importing. You can import lists of people into the program including your customer lists from Quickbooks. Our clients who have done so were able to do it but it was not easy. You must export from Quickbooks to a spreadsheet, properly edit the spreadsheet and then import it to Highrise. Lists on Excel spreadsheets are relatively easy to import.

****BE AWARE that separate Contacts get set up for the company and for a person. This can cause problems if you don’t have a policy about where you will enter your data. We choose to enter all data under the person’s name rather than the company name. Remember if data is later entered under the company Contact, it will not be visible to persons who call up the Contact under the person’s name.

Contacts can be entered manually or imported. To enter a contact manually go to Contacts and on the right side of the screen click “Add a New Person.” You can also “Add a New Company” but in general we don’t recommend that you do that. We keep all of our records under the “Person.” (If you do otherwise and like it, let me know!) When you click Add a New Person a screen comes up where you enter the person’s information. More can be added later and it can be edited. You can also choose who can, or cannot, view this contact. A person without permission to view the contact will also not be able (or even aware) of the Notes and later entries relating this Contact.

On the right side of your screen when you pull up a Contact you will find a place to “Stay up to date on this person.” Just below that if you click “Turn on email up dates” you will receive an email every time anything is entered on this Contact. This can be helpful when you are waiting for someone to call or enter some record on a high-priority person. Be careful though—you can end up with a lot of emails.

Your Contacts can also be searched in a number of different manners. We will discuss Tags later but first go to your Contact page. You can find someone by typing their name in the box. This will search your Contacts for matches. You can also search for Contacts by City, State, Zip, Phone, Email, and Background by clicking on that search just below the box. Lastly you can also use “Show” and the drop box next to it to see a number of other possible searches.

*****You must establish a company rule. EVERY TIME THERE IS A TOUCH WITH A PERSON YOU MUST IMMEDIATELY ADD THEM TO THE DATA BASE AS A CONTACT. AS MUCH INFORMATION AS POSSIBLE MUST BE PUT IN THE CONTACT AND IT MUST BE KEPT UP TO DATE.

NOTES

Notes are the entry you make any time a Contact is “touched.” A phone call—no answer—enter it. A phone call—what did you talk about? Enter it. A note must be entered EVERY time a Contact is touched and probably every time anyone even thinks about the Contact. It is through these notes that you have the strength of the system.

Regarding notes. You enter you text in the box but just entering the text doesn’t finish your task. If all you want to do is record the note then to finish you must click the “Add this Note” box just below the text that you entered. More likely (especially once you get going) you will want to do more so therefore, after you enter your text in the box, click on “Show Options (files, cases, deals and permissions).” This opens up another entire list of options.

  • You can attach the note to a Case or a Deal. (This is discussed below.)
  • You can determine who you want to be able to see the note. If you do nothing everyone will see it. However there may be times when you want to select the people who are able to see the note.
  • You can change the date of the entry. Although it is bad form, you might be entering the notes of an out-of-office sales call you made at the end of the day before the next morning. This box will put whatever date you want on your note.
  • And lastly, you can choose to email the Note to selected persons or everyone. You do that by checking the appropriate boxes. Highrise then automatically sends the emails.

One other neat feature is in the sidebar of each contact. There you will see the contact information for your Contact including their email address. You should establish a company policy that all emails sent out are sent out by clicking on the email address shown in their Contact record. This will send out the email for you AND it will also post the email as a Note for all to see. Attachments included—which can be then opened by anyone with access to the Note.

Every time a Note is entered, a Task must also be entered.

 

Notes are simple. Just do it. Make sure that you click “Add the Note” so that it is actually recorded.

TASKS

The cornerstone of the Highrise software is the use of tasks. Every time that there is a touch with a Contact a Note is entered. Unless the lead is being closed, you also must assign a Task. A Task is the next thing that is supposed to be done to follow up on the Note. The consistent setting of Tasks changes your entire company. Things are now done and follow up becomes automatic. Each person starts their day by signing in to Highrise and checking their Tasks for the day.

Tasks fall into three categories: Tasks related to Notes, Tasks related to Cases; and Tasks not related to either Notes or Cases.

Tasks related to Notes:

After you add the text in the Note the box will, in yellow, ask you to add a Task to that Note. Click that box to add a Task associated with that Note. The Task fields then come up.

  1. The top line is a Heading Box. This can be used as much or as little as your company chooses. Keep the Headings short. When the Task comes up on the appropriate user’s daily tasks, this heading is shown first, followed by the category, the Contact and then the time.
  2. When is it due? When should the person see this Task? From the drop down box you can choose Today, Tomorrow, or a specific date and time. Or you can choose This Week, Next Week or Later. This Week means it will show up each day in the current week, Next Week it will show up each day next week and Later will simply post it at the bottom of that person’s To Do list indefinitely.
  3. Who is responsible? Choose the name of the person who is supposed to act—the person who will see the task. Unfortunately you cannot choose multiple people. If more than one person should receive the Task you have to enter the Task multiple times. You can (and often will) set Tasks for yourself. It simply is proper form to have a Task set with every Note and if the Task is for you, so be it.
  4. CHECK THE BOX TO LET EVERYONE SEE THE TASK!!! If you don’t check this box no one else will see the Task. Your company will undoubtedly create some controls to make sure the Tasks are entered and if this box is not checks that person will assume that no Task was set. There could be a time when you want to keep it private but that is very much the exception rather than the rule.
  5. Choose a Category. Default Categories are established for you. See Categories discussion below.
  6. THEN BE SURE TO CLIENT “ADD THIS TASK.” It is amazing how often new users fail to click this box and never actually add the Task that they create.

When every Note has a Task, follow up happens.

Tasks related to Cases:

Some of this discussion will be under Cases below but suffice to say that there are times when a Task is set for something other than a Note. In most of those instances the Task should relate to a Case. For example, if you need to have the company cash flow up-dated you might assign a Task to the accountant to complete the Cash Flow and post it in a Case called Accounting.

To set a Task related to a Case you use the same procedure as above. Start your screen from the Case and add the Task from the Case instead of the Note—often times it is from a Note in a Case.

Tasks not related to Notes or Cases.

These are done just by clicking “Add a Case.” We do this as a double-check on our sales follow up. When the Task is set for the next action it is common for another Task to be set a day or so later for someone to review the file and make sure that the follow-up plan is being completed.

Completing your Tasks

Each day each user starts their day by signing in to Highrise and checking their Tasks. As they complete the Tasks they:

  1. Add a Note as to the action that they have taken.
  2. Check off the box next to the completed Task. A line will go through the Task indicating that you have completed it. Do not use the trash can—then the task disappears rather than showing as completed.
  3. Add the next Task for the follow up—even if it is for yourself.

CATEGORIES

Step five above in how to set a Task tells you to choose a Category. Categories can create a visual reminder to the person who receives it. When you start there are default categories established for you. You can rename them, create your own or delete them. You can also assign them different colors. When a user opens their account and goes to Tasks they see the Tasks that have been assigned to them for that day. What they see is the heading followed by the Category in the color that you have chosen. To customize them for yourself click on “edit categories” and play with it. You can always change them later.

CASES

Cases are for actions that do not relate to individual clients. At The Fremont Group we currently have Cases for Board of Directors, Full Company Announcements, for each different category of employee, for our Alternative Marketing Plan, Office Expenses, Travel, and a few others. Each Case is customized to only allow access to the persons that you choose—others do not even know that the Case exists.

The use of Cases grows over time. We have our Marketing Associates post their daily reports in the MA Case; Board notes and announcements are on the Board of Directors Case, etc.

There are times when a Note that is entered on a Contact should also be posted in a Case—this is an option when you are entering the Note.

TAGS

Tags are the main method of sorting your Contacts. You create your Tag names. A Contact can be given as many or as few Tags as you choose and they can be changed at any time.

An example of how we use Tags is in our Outside Sales. The inside people call and set appointments for the OS each morning. As they get an appointment the Tag the Contact with the date (year/month/day) and the initials of the OS. When the OS picks up their sales leads for the day they go to Tags and mark the multiple tags of their initials and the date. A list then comes up for that day’s leads which they then download into an Excel spreadsheet. After they run the lead the classify it ABC or D and put the location Tag on it. Now it is possible to call up (and download if desired) lists of the A leads by a certain sales person—or any other combination. (Of course they also enter their Notes and Tasks).

Tag use is an extremely useful aspect of Highrise. Although its use is different in every type of business, the ability to sort out your leads and then be able to export that list has many applications.

DEALS

The use of Deals has to be controlled. It is nice that you can post a pending deal, won deal and lost deal and Deals will show each and total them for you but if you aren’t careful, Notes posted under deals will not show under the Contact and vice-versa unless you click the instruction to attach it to the Deal.

The Fremont Group uses Deals for our accounting and to track the results of all persons with whom we have had a physical touch. You will develop your own use.

The problem with Deals seems to be that you can’t delete them without losing the Notes to them. Honestly this is something that we are still learning.

Summary of Company Rules

  1. All entries are made under the person not under the company (unless you choose otherwise).
  2. Every person, vendor or client that comes in contact with the company needs to have a record created under Contacts and it must be done immediately.
  3. Every time a Contact is touched a Note must be entered.
  4. Every time a Note is entered a Task must be created—sometimes more than one.
  5. All emails to Contacts must be sent out through Highrise.
  6. Tags must be used according to company policy.

Example of Highrise Use in a Screen Printing Company

  • All Sales Leads are entered into Contacts. They are Tagged by Sales Person.
  • Notes are entered every time a Contact is touched and a Task is entered for the next action.
  • All estimates and sales sheets are scanned and posted to the Contact—anyone who takes a call can see everything that has gone to a potential customer.
  • The sales form is posted on the Note and Task is set for the sales manager to price the order. The sales person has turned on his email up-dates on the Contact so as soon as the pricing is entered he receives an email.
  • Sale is made. Deal is opened. Owner turns on email up-dates. Sales form is posted and Task is set for Accounting, Art and Purchasing.
  • Accounting contacts customer to verify information required for the account.
  • Purchasing notifies customer by email through Highrise when delivery of product is expected and again when it is received.
  • Art posts the work and communicates by email through Highrise with Customer for Art approval. When Art approval is received it is posted on the site and Task is set for Production.
  • Production schedules the run and emails the customer with run date. Task is set for Accounting to create the invoice.
  • Accounting emails the invoice to customer through Quickbooks.

When production is completed customer is emailed that it is available for

How to Sell on Value Rather Than Price

Don’t want to compromise on price? Experts explain how to stay competitive based on the value of your product or service to consumers.

By Tim Donnelly | Jul 20, 2011

In a famous video clip from Penn and Teller’s Showtime hidden camera show, diners are lured to an upscale restaurant branded as the world’s first boutique vendor of bottled water. A water steward presents each table with a menu discussing the finer qualities of water purportedly shipped in from mountains and streams all over the world, some of which cost as much as $8 a bottle.

Of course, the joke is on the customers because all the water actually came from the garden hose out back, but the message was clear: People are willing to pay more for a product if they think it gives them a truly special or significant value—and if you present it to them in just the right way.

Your company is probably selling a stuff that’s a lot more valuable than fancied-up hose water. Selling on value, not price, involves a balance of confidence, personal rapport, and doing your homework, and it’s become more difficult as technology gives consumers greater access to price information and competitors. We’ve talked with veterans of selling their value, and they share some tips on how to make your products stand out in a low-cost world.

Choose Your Targets Wisely

New companies often make one fatal mistake that forces them to compromise on price, says Barry Farber, a business consultant who has worked with American Airlines, AT&T and BMW, and author of more than 11 books on sales. Companies don’t narrow their target market, and don’t understand their products likely aren’t for everyone.

Farber says to do this by researching the potential client to see if they are a good candidate to meet your price needs. This saves you from wasting time talking to people who only want the cheapest deal.

“Some sales people, they just make sure the prospect is breathing and then they dump all this info on them,” he says. “That’s not a good return on your investment of your time. Sales reps that don’t have that kind of aggressive focus, if they lose [the deal], their month is dead, their year is dead.”

Nat Kausik, CEO of Trubates, an online marketplace for adjustable local deals, says his company knows that many consumers are familiar with the nature of value-based pricing, especially after dealing with fluctuating airplane fares. The right customers will be receptive to hearing why they should pay more for a certain product over another: That’s why his site lets users review an offer after they redeem it, and makes the review available to other users.

“Consumers, they’re very sophisticated,” he says. “They understand how to explore price for value.”

About one-third of consumers are purely hung up on price, while the other two-thirds are open to at least hearing your argument, says Tom Reilly, an author and value-based shopping expert. Innovators and early adopters are more likely to shell out the extra money, he says.

“Be crystal clear whom the market segment is that you’re designing for,” he says.

Leverage Your Strengths and Experience

Once you’re in the sales meeting with a potential client, you had better be ready to stiffen your backbone and wield the full weight of your company’s strengths. This comes largely from sales skills, but you can prepare your team by educating them on how your company stands out.

“It’s almost embarrassing at times the way people don’t understand all the ways they bring value,” Reilly says.

You should also be telling the potential client or customers about the history of the company, which helps build confidence in the product. Build up your success stories by documenting testimonials from past successes and showing them off to future opportunities.

“Be able to successfully use your customers as your sales people,” Farber says.

Orwak, a company that supplies waste compactors, baling systems, and other recycling equipment, emphasizes its value thanks to its trans-continental reach. Based in Europe, the company has seen recycling grow leaps and bounds ahead of the United States over the past 40 years. Its sales team pitches its products as a way to help companies stay ahead of the recycling curve.

“We try to sell it as, ‘Hey we’ve been there, done that. Let’s look at Europe, that’s the future of America,'” says Mark Lanning, Orwak’s national sales manager. “We’re going to give you a little peek at the future from our experience.”

Know That Confidence is Key

When you’re highlighting the value of a product over cheaper competitors, you shouldn’t be vacillating on price or negotiating. Reilly says to avoid words and phrases that suggest flexibility, things like saying “generally, we charge” or “your price.”

“The time not to show a lack of conviction is when you’re asking people for money,” he says.

Drop the price without hesitation and without getting defensive, he says.

It is the time, however, to mention the advantages you bring to market: global sourcing, logistic support programs and other things that go beyond the features of a single product or service, Reilly says.

You can be confident without dragging your competitors through the dirt, Farber says. Highlight why your product’s value is worth their consideration over lower-price options.

“The most critical thing an entrepreneur needs more than anything else is confidence,” he says. “If that’s missing, I don’t care if you have a plan and all that stuff, you’re dead in the water. You can lose your edge right away, and selling value becomes 10 times more difficult.”

Emphasize Your Customer Service

The toughest job selling value to customers is getting them to picture the full depth and breadth of everything your company has to offer.

Lanning says his company likes to talk about more than just the product, as comparing balers can feel like just comparing one hunk of steel to another. Customers now expect a quick response time, an ease of use and the feeling that you care about them.

“It’s easier to paint the picture about service than a hard object,” he says.

Farber advises people to foucs on personal touches and developing a rapport with the client by getting to know their needs and business background.

“I’m a big believer of handwritten thank you notes,” he says.

Often the customers who are obsessed with finding the lowest price turn into the biggest headaches, he says. But the customers that see your value understand you’ll be there to provide customer service.

Make sure to keep providing good service throughout the lifespan of the customer, which will let you pile up those customer testimonials you can use to show future clients why you provide the right value.

“Value is always long term,” Reilly says. “Price is short term.”

Reprinted from INC MAGAZINE

What are those funny squares?

 

It used to be that the only thing that stayed the same was the pace of change but now that has increased so rapidly that nothing stays the same. Yesterday’s innovation quickly becomes yesterday’s news. Nowhere is this more true than in marketing. Some things are just fads and disappear overnight and some things stclip_image002and the test of time. Technology used to be the arena of the young—and now the young are middle aged. If you are not connecting with them, you are missing your market and in this day of rapid change, even short-terms mistakes in marketing can be fatal. All of which leads us to QR codes.

If you start looking around you will see QR codes everywhere—they snuck up on us. Similar to a bar code the QR code is a pattern that can be read by any “smart phone.” It does require an app (hope I’m not losing you here) but the app is free. Search for a “QR Code Reader” and download the app. Using the app, you position your phone over the QR Code and your phone is immediately taken to the web site of the code. The QR Code above takes you to The Fremont Group web site. Now start imagining the possibilities—put your web site code on all your materials—business cards, bids, literature, your email, door hangers, advertisements, brochures—anything that people will see. You now will have people going directly to the web site of your choice.

Two more good things—first the QR Codes are free. Google QR Code generator and you will be taken to a free web site. Enter your desired web site and the code is immediately generated for you to download and save. (A hint—use the small version where you are given a choice. The large ones are really large. They can however be manipulated by sizing the text box when you insert them into copy.) Second good thing—it creates incredibly simple tracking of hits. Create a web site that merely redirects one to the desired web site and you can track the number of hits on coming from the code. Use different codes for different products or services to direct people to exactly what you want them to see. The bad news is, if you have a lousy web site you might not want to direct people to it! On the other hand this is a strong reason to bring you web site up-to-date. Ask yourself—what do I want people to see when it comes up on their phone? That will determine what you want from your site.

QR Codes could become an extremely strong marketing tool—or they could be a fad. Frankly it doesn’t matter. Your company must take advantage of this technology immediately if for no other reason merely for the image of being ahead of the curve. I am told that they have been around much longer in Asia and are now commonplace. Given their flexibility and simplicity and given that they are free, I expect them to also become a mainstay here. Try it, you’ll like it.