With gas prices soaring through the roof, most small businesses are faced with the dilemma of having to raise their prices. I’ve talked with business owners who just haven’t faced up to this reality yet. They’re afraid that they’ll lose business to their competitors.
My answer to this is simple. First, if you offer exceptional service then you really have nothing to worry about. Most customers will stick with you even if your prices are a little more than the guy down the street. With that said however, let me offer some advice that will help to offset the price dilemma.
The first rule is that most people do not buy on price. They may talk about price but what they really mean is that you haven’t offered enough value to justify paying the price you’re asking. I challenge anyone who disagrees with this statement to read the book How to Sell at Margins Higher than Your Competitors, by Lawrence L. Steinmetz. In it, Steinmetz says that most sales people think their price is already too high, without the customer or prospect even saying the first word. Let me repeat that- most people selling products and services believe deep down that they’re charging too much.
If you think about it, you can see just how true that statement is. Why is it that when confronted about price of their service, business owners start to justify it with all kinds of bemoaning reasons? Instead of telling them it’s all because of OPEC, start letting your customer know about the value they’ve received. I have a friend in the home remodeling business who is terrified that if he raises his prices by $10, he’ll lose repeat business. I’ve told him that in essence, he’s telling his customers that his service is not worth an extra $10.
The key is adding value. If you don’t offer exceptional value, then your product or service becomes just another commodity. People always buy commodities on price. If you’re just another remodeler, or just another car detailing service, you’re in trouble. Value means offering more for a higher price.
It may mean that you have a “Money Back Guarantee” if they’re not completely satisfied. It means that you use only the finest materials or the most environmentally sound products in your work.
Selling on value reminds me of a cartoon illustration that caught my eye in Steinmetz’s book. It’s a picture of a brother and sister each with their own lemonade stand side by side.
The brother’s lemonade stand reads “Lemonade 25 cents.”
The sister’s lemonade stand reads “Lemonade 50 cents (clean water).”