When it comes down to doing a job for a customer, it often boils down to two things; price and performance. The first is negotiable; the second is not. To me, this is a black and white issue, but it never ceases to amaze me how confused some people can get over these two issues.
When we begin to work with a client, price seems to overshadow much of the conversation. It becomes a kind of obsession. The client is on one side of the fence, trying to get as many services as possible for the price. There’s nothing really wrong with that, as long as he or she is reasonable with their requests.
On the other side of the fence is the vendor, and the vendor is also trying to get paid as much as they can from the client. Again, assuming the vendor is ethical, and has the best interest of the client at heart, there is nothing really wrong with that either.
It’s not the negotiation but rather, what happens after the negotiation that often troubles me. I belong to the Lee Jolles, (my father,) school of negotiation, and that school had one, consistent motto: “A deal, is a deal… even if you don’t like the deal anymore.” If you don’t like the deal, don’t agree to it. But once you do, by golly, by gosh, you live up to that deal!
Think about it for a moment because we have all been faced with this moment of truth. Imagine you have struck a deal to do a job, and for whatever reason, you agreed to do the job at 50% of your normal compensation. Maybe you agreed to do this job in a moment of weakness, or maybe it was carelessness, or maybe you needed the work, or perhaps it was a favor. Once the deal has been agreed to, the price, along with the reasons you accepted that price, are irrelevant. Can you remove that number from your brain and do the job with every ounce of commitment you possess, or does that number hold you back?
Sometimes this is harder than it sounds. Can you give the same effort to a client who will generate far less commission? Shouldn’t the real question be, “Do I want to take on this client or not?” In my line of work, I often hear speakers grumbling about the deal they struck, and remarking how their “heart just isn’t into the work.” I find that reaction unforgiveable because, in the end, price should never have anything to do with performance.
I believe performance should have everything to do with pride. Performance should have everything to do with integrity. Performance should be how you sign your work. Can you imagine signing your work by saying to a client, “You think this was a good job – you should see how hard I work when I’m paid more!”
Price and performance; they may be partners early in the conversation, but in the end, one has nothing to do with the other. If you can remember that, and make that your mantra, I think your clients will love how you sign your work, and so will you.