Measurable Business Results - Differentiate or Die

Why is it that We as Professionals Don't Do this One Little Thing?
Most companies providing professional services "forget" what the client is ultimately buying.  Frankly, client also forget!

Both the seller and the client get wrapped up in the technology and how it works too often.  The provider of professional services actually "trains" the client this way though. If you review marketing literature most companies provide - large corporations and small firms - you will probably find more discussion on how things are done or what was done rather than what was actually achieved.

My Experience with MBRs
Several years ago the firm I was working with went and visited Gartner.  It was a long meeting, in which we talked about SLAs, how our model worked, who we were, who our clients were, and did I mention SLAs?  It seemed like we mentioned SLAs over and over.
Most clients want results.
And then later, they may want to
know how you are going to do it.
Toward the end of the meeting we brought up results we acheived for our clients.  I mean, real, tangible results.  We coined the term "MBRs" or Measurable Business Results prior to our meeting, as I kept on saying to our COO and CEO and anyone else that listened, that the work we were doing was far, far different than our competitors.

Our Competitors Talked Certifications
While our competitors were talking about certifications of ISO this, and ISO that, and SEI CMM certifications this (and in reality there were no such things as a SEI certification!) and that and this, our firm was able to go in and talk to a client about what they needed done - or more exactly achieved.

Sure some of our competitors could talk about results from a cost reduction, but they could only talk about this from a "labor arbitrage" point of view as they were just swapping out US labor costs for offshore labor costs.  Jeez, anyone can do that.

The Value Prop We Didn't Know We Had!
Our firm was able to guarantee in writing that by this date they would have X amount of customers, at least this amount of revenue, and depending on the type of client they were dealing with they could get even more specific to the industry (i.e. hotel bookings, airline bookings, car rental booking, gas and oil trades, etc). 

Now here was the real kicker: They were able to guarantee this in the contract, before they even began the project.

When I got there, we really did not tout this as a real distinction. But that was because they were so accustomed to doing this, that the some of the people there did not see this as important or a critical market distinction.  Because I came from the outside and looked in - I saw this as a critical differentiator.

So when we got to Gartner - we started talking about these MBRs.  And this made us unique to Gartner.  All of a sudden we stood out. We were different. They, like I, could not believe we would contract, up front, to drive MBRs in our contract.

To Stand Out - Well, Just Stand Out
So, if you want to be unique, understand the value in what you do.  I know MBRs are "risky" if and only if you don't know how to drive them and achieve them.  In reality - results are what the client is buying.

We Train Our Clients To Pick Us Apart
But because we are used to selling features and benefits - the old way of selling - we actually train our clients to buy from us that way.  And what do they do?  They try to understand the only thing other than price. That is - how are you going to do what you are doing?  This is allowing the client's technical staff (IT, legal, procurement) to pick apart the proposal. 

It's All More or Less - "Death by Duck Bite" 
Death by Duck bite looks like this - which you may have seen before:
  1. Who are the people on this project? Can I see their resumes? Can I interview them? I don't like Jack, you need to replace him.
  2. What is your approach? Don't you think you should start with this group first? Don't you think this should take two weeks and not five weeks? How come you have four people doing this - can't you get just two people to do this?
  3. What is the price? How much per hour for these people? What - are you kidding me?  I can get them for one-third of the price -
  4. Your competition says that they can do half of this off-shore at $22 per hour. Can you match this?  They also are saying this and that - can you do this and that?
Get the picture? If you want to avoid the trap of being picked apart - avoid selling features and benefits and get into selling results.

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