I love my car. I love the way it feels when I put my foot on the gas pedal, I love that it’s sleek, that it’s fast, and that it has excellent brakes. I even love the little things—the silver trim along the door that you only see when you open the door and are getting in or out. The way the dashboard displays glow in a cool blue light, even when the headlights aren’t on. The rubber floor mats that are great for winter. (They are also good for spring and summer, in case you happen to be too lazy to change them out for the standard carpet mats.)
One of the reasons I probably love my car so much is that it is a pretty significant step up from my last car. Don’t get me wrong, I liked my last car. I had it for 10 years, and it was pretty reliable, not completely uncomfortable, and it did what I needed it to do. But I didn’t love it. It was great for me at the time that I bought it. It was reasonably priced, and it essentially met all of my expectations. But when it was time to get rid of it I was glad to do so. I had changed a lot in 10 years, and it no longer fit me. I could have easily gone out and purchased the latest version of the same make and model car. I’m sure it had lots of changes and improvements since the version I bought 10 years earlier, and it probably would have been adequate for my needs. The problem is, adequate wasn’t good enough for me. I had changed—I’m older, wiser, I can afford something more—so I needed something different. The car I bought cost more, but it was clearly a big upgrade in terms of quality, style, and performance, and 3 ½ years later, it’s still well worth the investment.
My car situation is exactly what many businesses face when it comes to choosing service providers. Maybe the service they currently work with does an OK job. Maybe they started using them when they first opened up, and they couldn’t really afford to pay much. Rate very likely was the determining factor they used to select a service, and little else mattered. But as their business changed and grew, they find that their incumbent providers aren’t really a great fit for them any longer. They want to upgrade, and they want the same things you want in a better car: quality, style, and performance. So it stands to reason that when you want something better, you should expect to pay more for it, right? It doesn’t seem so obvious to many of the buyers I encounter. But, I guess if it did my job would be too easy.
I’m not saying that everything that is better should cost more. But there has to be a minimum level of value received, and value and price aren’t necessarily same thing. If you walk into a BMW dealer and tell them all of the problems you have with your VW, you wouldn’t then ask them if they could match VW’s price, would you? Just because they are both German cars, and both have the same purpose, they are clearly not the same product. A short test-drive of each will show you that pretty quickly. So it makes no sense that a buyer would do the same thing when it comes to business services.
The last thing anyone in business-to-business sales wants is to be compared to a car salesperson. (I don’t want to offend anyone in car sales—I know there are lots out there that don’t fit the negative stereotype. I bought my car from a good one. But let’s be honest—that is one of the stereotypes that exist for a reason. There are too many who purely rely on the standard high-pressure, high-cliché approach that make just about everyone dread shopping for a car.) When it comes to selling your services, you need to be able to differentiate yourself and demonstrate value. The key, of course, is figuring out how to do that. As soon as I got behind the wheel of my car I was sold. It was instantly clear that there was no comparison between it and my old car. Maybe offering a test drive of your services is all it will take to convince your buyer that it’s time for them to upgrade.