How many times did I lose the girl to the fast-talking smooth talker? Too often to count.
How many times did I miss out on business deals because I did not just tell the client what they wanted to hear – and someone else did? Plenty of times.
Am I happy about it? Actually, yes.
In the end I not only got the girl, but I got the right girl – although my wife of 29 years says that I tricked her by “acting” like an interesting, fun-loving person. In my defense, it was so hard to “act” interesting that the real boring me came out on the second date – and she still married me – so blame her.
And the business that I did actually win was good, honest, long lasting, mutually beneficial business that continues to this day.
Lesson 1: Fair Pricing and Profit Margins
Your product or service must provide real value to your customer. If it does not, then stop reading this and re-evaluate your business completely. If it does, then you should set your profit margin in line with similar businesses in your industry. You should assume that your client will find out your profit margin – because they often can and do. If you cannot realistically defend your profit margin, then you are making a conscious choice of short-term, unsustainable profits over long-term, healthy, mutually beneficial business. Short-term thinking may get you a small profit now, but that profit will be dwarfed by the lost profit over a lifetime in business, not to mention the irreparable damage done to your reputation.
Lesson 2: Winning on Low Price
Some are successful at winning business with the lowest price. Unfortunately, this is often also a form of short-term thinking. How can your price be significantly lower than your competition without negative ramifications? Where are you cutting corners and how does this ultimately affect the true value your customer receives? Is your product defective? Do you have high turnover of your employees resulting in poor customer service to your client? Will you have to raise prices or reduce your service offering in the future, effectively pulling a bait and switch with your client? Plan for the long term by coming up with a pricing model that reflects the quality, service and reliability that your business provides.