Recently I was speaking at a firm’s leadership retreat. The group included top performing rain makers, and those who were struggling to bring in new business. Within the same firm, some were successfully commanding top dollar, whereas others were constantly facing pricing pressure and discounting. During our discussion, the ones who were struggling were convinced that with a tight economy, their clients were obsessed with price. One of them noted “Essentially we provide the same services as the other firms.”
When I asked the top performers for their perspective, they commented that their clients appreciated how much value each of them brought to the table, and rarely was it a matter of price. You might be asking, “How is this possible for people inside the same organization?”
There are three keys to understand this predicament, and avoid the trap within your organization.
1) What are you thinking?
If you are someone who bargain shops and has to find the absolute lowest price on every item you purchase, you might believe that every client thinks the same way. Do not project your beliefs on others. Especially when professional services are involved, price is rarely the dominant factor in making decisions (even if you are selling to the government, folks). If you think that your firm provides the identical services as others, don’t expect your clients to draw a different conclusion. Your own beliefs will shape your communication with your clients and prospects. Your beliefs shape reality.
2) Why do they need you, and what is unique?
Instead of thinking about WHAT you do, think about WHY your clients might need your help. Rarely are clients thinking “I am looking for someone to bill me $500 per hour for some random service.” Instead, recognize that clients make buying decisions to overcome a challenge that represents some form of risk or impediment. If you focus beyond your own services, and take the time to understand the impact on your client, you’ll quickly see the comparative value to them… and so will your client. When you realize that their issue has a $500,000 potential impact to their organization, you might realize how trivial your fee is to address that issue. Even if you provide a similar product or service, you might be unique in your experience helping similar clients, in how you deliver your products and services, in your track record, how you bill your client, or your geographic location. Remember that you have to believe you offer something unique. Then, target clients who value those attributes.
3) Non-verbal communication
So why do beliefs and perceived value have such a profound impact on success or lack thereof when it comes to growing business? No matter how much you try to follow a script, your non-verbal communication will dominate your message. Have you ever asked a clerk in an electronics store about a product, and they hesitate and look down when answering? Even if they answered “Yes,” you heard “I’m not sure” because of their body language. When you speak with your client or prospect, they don’t just hear your words, they detect your tone and body language. Unfortunately, when your words, tone, and body language are not aligned, your words come in last place. Meaning, your body language and tone dominate. You have to believe in what you sell, or your tone and body language will give you away.
At the leadership retreat, it became clear that each partner’s internal beliefs shaped reality. The top performers understood where they added value, and they were confident about how different they were compared the other firms. They spoke with confidence, and that confidence translated into success.
What do you believe, and how does it shape your success?