An unwelcome answer I often give to clients when asked, “What should I do?” – It depends.
Last week I was asked two important questions by two different clients: one about selling their business and the other about giving away assessments for free. To both, I gave that answer.
Should I sell my business? Well, it depends. Did you get a “good” offer, or one so damned good you’d be a fool to say no? Have you lost your passion for growing your business? Would selling and staying on help you build something even more lucrative and fun? Do you think you’ve taken it as far as you can?
Most big questions like this are difficult to answer with a simple yes or no. All coins have two sides, all decisions pros and cons. The right answers are nuanced and sophisticated. Should you raise your prices? It depends… Could you pull that off easily based on client loyalty, value, competition or a trend or opportunity you see? Are you priced too low across the board or with one or two services? Is it a true price issue or something else, like operational inefficiencies or too much overhead? Are all clients unprofitable or only a subset? Will the price increase price you out of the market, slowing sales to an unacceptable level? And if so, does the increase make up for it in some other long-term (or short-term) way? Is there another way to raise prices without appearing to raise prices, like selling an upgrade?
Candidly, I like muddling through such quagmires of complicated decisions and untangling them string by string to come up with maximum upside, no downside. That’s not always possible, which is what makes some decisions more difficult. It’s difficult to get all upside.
Amazon was criticized early on for not making a profit – until they did. I’m sure Bezos deliberated over many decisions pertaining to how long to plow profits into development and go negative with the hope that it would work out in the end. There are no guarantees. In the end, it was the right decision, but I’m sure it wasn’t simple.
Then you take the question of giving away or charging for IT assessments. Again, the answer isn’t a simple yes or no. For starters, are we talking about giving away an assessment to meet a HIPAA or regulatory compliance that should (if done right) be very extensive and time-consuming? If yes, the answer is probably no, you should not give that away for free. However, if we’re talking about giving away a free assessment that is a souped-up sales consultation, like the free assessments financial advisors, realtors, dentists, chiros, marketing firms, accounting firms (check out Tax Hive’s offer) and the like have successfully used for years to get new clients, then yes, it makes perfect sense to give it away for free as a means for getting entry into a new account to unseat an incumbent provider.
If you’re swamped with inbound leads and clients wanting to do business with you, then you don’t have to give away free assessments and you might want to charge something as a means for filtering out the lookie-loos and tire-kickers. But if your lead generation pipeline is anemic and you’re starving for business, then you’d be a fool to put up barriers and speed bumps to slow down prospects coming to you.
If you’re going to call it a free assessment but then go in and add no value, do nothing to demonstrate your expertise and fail to use it as a way to show the prospect where they are being underserved, then don’t bother. That won’t “work” because you’ll only accelerate the pace at which people discover you’re incapable of diagnostic selling. But if you’re willing to be a serious student of marketing and know how to “sell” the appointment using an assessment to open a door to someone who’s not actively looking for a new IT company, then yes, you should give them for free.
A common trait among people who never get ahead: they’re UNWILLING to think through complex problems. They want the Atkins diet approach to everything – just don’t eat carbs. Or the DiSC (or any similar) profile test: If you match the profile, you’ll automatically be good at the job I’m hiring you for. Yes or no. Business IS complicated, and most of the decisions you make are not black and white – nor should they be made that way.
Do you want more leads, more clients, more profits now but don’t know where to start? Click here and watch a quick video about the three biggest problems IT Service Businesses face and how to solve them.