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But, There Is No Opportunity But To Be Cheaper . . .

Yesterday’s post (You Will Die By That Same Sword) elicited a number of responses (pricing and cold calling posts always do). One comment (a tweet, actually) suggested that price is the only thing that you can sell.

Whoa! I know pricing isn’t easy. Buyers have more power than ever, and there is still a lot of downward pressure on margins, for sure.

Read this carefully and take some time to think it over before you fill my inbox and the comment section with all of the reasons as to why you can’t do anything but be cheaper.

Regardless of what you sell, you can sell something more than price. Period.

A Bit of Overwhelming Evidence

Apple sells the very same thing that Hewlett-Packard sells. Apple sells the very same thing that Dell sells. Apple sells the very same thing that Research in Motion, Samsung, and Acer sells.

The parts, the components that make up a computer, an MP3 player, or a smart phone are the same parts. It’s a little metal, a little plastic, a few boards, a few chips, and some glass. They are all made of silicon. All of the stuff Apple—and their competitors—make is a essentially a few hundred bucks worth of extremely common parts.

“But wait,” you say. “Iannarino, that’s Apple, man. We can’t be Apple. They’re special.”

And special they are. That’s what makes them worth paying more to obtain and worth more as a company. Want something less sexy?

Starbucks sells coffee. Yes, it’s just coffee. They sell a lot of coffee that’s mixed with the strangest and most unique substances on earth, like milk, chocolate, and whipped cream. Sometimes they use super high tech equipment like blenders to make iced versions of their drinks.

And, they have a logo!

There are a lot of other people that sell coffee, but none of them are Starbucks. And, with apologies to Mr. Schultz, some coffee shops are better than Starbucks ever dreamed of being, like Intelligentsia. Because Starbucks is special, they can get more for a cup of coffee than almost anyone else.

But both Apple and Starbucks sell commodities. Both believe they are special, and both work to create value outside of price (way outside of price).

But, I Could Never . . .

I could go on and on with countless examples, but I don’t need to. If you are a commodity, you chose to be a commodity.

“Iannarino, you are so, so very wrong. I sell ____________. There is no way I could sell anything but price.” I’ll let you fill in the blank. But here is the cold, hard truth, for those who are willing to face it:

The idea that everyone gives the most weight to price when buying whatever it is you sell is simply wrong. Some of your target market buys price, because that it what they value most of all. Maybe they are into operational efficiencies and they have to have the lowest price because that is their strategy. But many more would pay more to receive more.

But, You Could . . .

Maybe you sell computers and equipment. Maybe you think price is the only factor being used to decide where to buy, especially since anyone can simply shop the Internet and compare prices. But if that’s is what you think, it’s a choice you have made. You have chosen to believe that you have no ability to create or deliver any other value around their purchase.

This is anti-Jobs and anti-Schultz thinking.

It’s not true. You could do more, and you could be more.

You could be the alternative to lower price. You could be the people that sell better service and a better overall value. You could be high touch.

You could be the people who get to know their clients and their businesses, building plans that help them address their future needs. You could be the people who help them think strategically about their future purchases. You could be the people that save them money (lower cost) by helping them shape and build their future technology needs on how they create a competitive advantage for their clients or customers.

You could be the people companies trust when they really need results from their technology, not just boxes and wires. You could link what you sell to how your clients create value for their clients. You could link it to the idea that the advantage you bring is that you help equip your clients to deliver better service to their clients and customers.

What could you be? You could be whatever you wanted to be to be worth more. You could be the computer provider your clients needed you to be. Would you have to work a Hell of a lot harder? You bet you would.

Would you have to have a vision? Yes! Would you have to something better to offer, something remarkable? Indeed you would.

None of this easy, and nothing worth doing ever is.

Lest you salespeople think that this post is for CEO’s and the heads of companies, be warned: this is for salespeople, too. You can create more value than your competitors, and you yourself can be a differentiator that makes you and your company worth paying more to obtain.

Lately, I have seen a flight to quality, led by companies that sell better results than their competitors. Lowest price often has a higher cost.

Questions

Who decides whether you are a commodity?

Who controls the strategic choice you make as a business?

Are there people in your space who have higher prices, higher margins? What do they believe about themselves and what they do?

Do you personally always buy the lowest price, even when something is a commodity?


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