I had an interesting chat about the cost of services at business networking event. My contact was keen to share how he had met someone who offered him ‘a great deal on some social media marketing‘. I responded by saying that the cost sounded good but also asking him what the service included and how it benefited his company marketing strategy and business goals?
The silence was deafening, followed by ‘what do you mean by strategy‘! I was lost for words but quickly realised the reality of the situation i.e. he was totally blinded by ‘the deal‘ and hadn’t even established what he was getting for his money and whether this service was actually what he really needed for his business.
Why Cost Shouldn’t Be The First Question
This bizarre conversation got me thinking about similar situations, not just for business owners like me and him but when potential customers or clients are looking for a suitable company or provider and look to buy from you. How often is the first question ‘how much will it cost?’ Many times, I’m sure you will agree!
By solely focusing on cost often means looking for a quick fix to your problem e.g. we have a problem or need, so what is the cheapest and quickest way to fix it. This might work fine when you are looking for the supermarket who offers your typical weekly shop and you can compare like with like to get the best overall value for your money.
However, more often than not, when comparing service providers, you are not comparing ‘apples with apples’. If you, as we do, provide a very flexible, bespoke offering, then how much your service costs will depend on a number of factors. A good example…if my company is approached regarding providing Career Transition (outplacement) to support a programme of re-organisation and redundancies or Coaching services to improve individual or team performance, there are usually many flexible options to solve their problem and provide the best solution. Of course, cost will be a key consideration for most companies, organisations or individuals but just focusing on cost won’t necessarily provide the best solution, will it?
We like to work collaboratively with our clients, so feel it is important to develop the relationship first, by understanding your key requirements, before we start talking money. There are a number of key questions to consider e.g.
- What are you looking to achieve / key objectives/outcomes for your project?
- How many people are involved?
- Timescales to start and complete the project?
- Finally …..How much budget do you have for the project?
It Ain’t What You Do, it’s the Way That You do it!
Why ask all these questions first? Because, the answers will determine whether the personal calling or emailing has really thought through how best they want the project or problem resolved, how much say they have in choosing the right provider or understands what they can achieve for their budget. Such questions also open up more meaningful discussions, rather than just focusing on cost, which is no different to my opening example!
Whether you are a company, organisation or individual client, what you get for your money, how and when the service is delivered and how this meets your desired objectives and outcome is surely of the utmost importance, is it not? If you need some building work done on your home, it is likely you will get a few different quotes. However…
As the song goes: “It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it” .
So, when making key decisions to determine the right company or provider to deliver the service you require, I’m sure you will want to know the answers to some or all of these questions first, wouldn’t you?
- What is their pedigree?
- Do they come recommended?
- What is their approach?
- How will they help take away any ‘pain’ or pressure from you?
- Do they have the right expertise for your project?
- Do they work collaboratively with you to provide you with the best solution/s for your money to achieve your objective/ outcome/s ?
- How confident are you about the provider delivering your project in the way you want and when you want?
How much does it cost to get it wrong?
The cost of not achieving your key objectives or outcomes or receiving bad PR by choosing the wrong company or provider will ultimately cost you much more than spending more time and effort and maybe investing some additional budget to get the outcome/s you want. This is no different to choosing your builder purely on cost and finding you have to get them back to make good the job or worse still, having to find another builder to sort out their mess!