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Shooting in the Dark

February 10, 2011 — Leave a comment

Yesterday I mentioned Covey’s second habit – Beginning with the end in mind…how does this work in practice?

When planning a sales call, “the end”, or meeting outcome must be the first consideration!  Doing otherwise wastes both yours and the prospects time.  What should the call outcome be?  Almost every company I work with can tell me what tends to lead to a sale.  For instance, last week I was speaking at a software company’s partner summit.  They quoted a statistic showing that ninety percent of their “Proof of Concept” initiatives lead to a buying decision.  In another national sales meeting I spoke at, an access assurance company presented a similar statistic.  One reseller client I work with on quarterly marketing events says that he closes follow-on projects for ninety percent of the complementary assessments he offers.  With this in mind, they are generally able to quantify what qualifies their proof of concept effort, who should be involved, and how to run the program.  This is the goal, to get to this point with these people.  On the other hand, my non-scientific surveys show that companies are closing about ten percent of their proposals; even among companies who have shared their key to success as stated above.  What that tells me is we are writing the proposals before getting to that predictable key point in the sales process, or we just have not identified it yet.   If you don’t know the end goal, you’re just shooting in the dark.  If you do know it, you may be wasting great opportunities.

© 2011, David Stelzl

Here are some ways to increase fees without penalizing your clients.

  1. Measure risk – Impact and likelihood, of a disaster, jointly place a value on it and set your fee accordingly.
  2. Look for problem areas that consistently show up across the companies you do business in.  Come up with solutions and use this material to call higher.
  3. Trade product gross profit for recurring revenue.  This builds annuity rather than a one-time transaction.
  4. Use Assessments rather than traditional open-ended questions to discover larger opportunities.
  5. Be willing to give away assessments in order to reach higher-level people in the account.  This leads to selling larger value priced deals.
  6. Propose options to build adjacent business in the accounts you are already working.
  7. Build greater expertise into your consulting group to offer more complex solutions
  8. Develop presentation skills that appeal to the executive level.  You’ll find that you are worth more to them than the next guy.
  9. Pass up smaller transactions to create more time for complex deals that offer greater reward.
  10. Develop stronger marketing programs to position your company as the expertise leader, rather then the low price leader.

© 2011, David Stelzl

When was the last time you raised your fees?  If your business still quotes T&M most of the time, now is the time to make the change.   If you set fixed price fees based on estimated time, you might consider moving to “value pricing” this year.   Don’t wait; it’s the New Year, meaning people are open to change.

If you’re looking for justification on fee increases, look at the value you bring to your clients.  If your value is low, it’s time to upgrade.  However, most companies I talk to insist their value is high and their clients are highly satisfied.  If this is the case, you have justification to raise your fees.  But don’t penalize your existing customer contracts.   Guarantee pricing to your best clients while you move new business opportunities to new prices.  Consider adding new offerings to your existing programs that deliver more value with a higher price.  Figure it will take several months, if not a year to see bottom line impact, so get started now.  Those who wait until their income statements are in a crisis will be sorry.

Some considerations.  It’s time to charge more if:

o You are losing money on existing contracts

o Installations are coming in with lower margins than expected

o Fixed prices are turning into losses

o You are the low price leader in a high-tech market

o Larger companies won’t consider you because of amateur pricing levels

o Your business is project oriented

o Your value exceeds your price

© 2010, David Stelzl