Motivating with Value, Not Price

“Why Do I Charge So Much? Because I Can.”
Motivating with Value, Not Price

By Barry Maher

It’s axiomatic that every business, every manager, every employee, every one of us is in sales, in one form or another. Of course, for companies with sales teams, we expect the “real selling” to be done by the sales professionals.

I’ll never forget the day I watched a secretary outsell a team of sales veterans.

The company sold consulting services. That morning I’d met with some of their less successful reps. Most of them knew exactly why they weren’t selling. “Our prices are just too damn high,” they assured me repeatedly. I’d heard it before. As we all know, price is often the single biggest obstacle for acquiring new business. It’s also the number one excuse of unsuccessful marketing and salespeople.

Now, I was riding with Helen Daniels, secretary to the boss and the person who’d handled new business inquiries before the pros had been hired: handled them, I’d been told, with great success. I wanted to see just how she’d done it.

We were meeting with the VP of Operations of a good size uniform company. Sure enough when the issue of price came up, the VP acted exactly as the reps had predicted, using almost the exact same words they’d used.

“Sounds to me like you people are awful damn expensive,” he said, accusingly.

“Absolutely,” Helen agreed, offering her brightest smile.

“So why do you charge so much?”

“Simple,” she said. “Because we can!”

“What?”

“We charge that much because we can. Because our clients are not just willing but happy to pay those kind of rates for the results we generate.”

“But can’t they find someone else to do the job for less?”

“Absolutely.”

“Somebody who will do the exact same job for less?”

“Well, they could certainly find companies that will charge less. I’m no expert on the kind of work these people might do, so I really can’t say whether or not they’ll do the exact same job.”

“So you’re saying, You get what you pay for?”

“No,” she smiled, “I’m saying to get us, you’ve got to pay for us. I really don’t know that much about the kind of work these other companies do. Or why they charge less. Maybe you should ask them. I don’t know a lot of businesses that charge less if they could charge more, but maybe they’re humanitarians.”

“I seriously doubt that,” VP said.

“Well, like I say, I’m no authority about their work. We charge more because our clients are happy to pay more for the results we generate. Maybe these other companies charge less because that’s what their clients are willing to pay for the results they generate.”

“But your rates . . . ?”

“Expensive.”

Very expensive.”

“Exactly. And worth every penny. And let me tell you why.”  Which she then preceded to do.

That’s Making the Skeleton Dance. Helen took the potential negative of price and bragged about it so hard she not only made that skeleton dance, she made it polka. Twenty-five minutes later we walked out of there with a signed contract.

© Copyright 2009, 2013.  Barry Maher, Nevada (Las Vegas)

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