You want a Mercedes, but a Chevy will get you there

Version 3
    I am currently in negotiations with the state chapter of a nationwide organization. The hardware they are using for their database, critical to daily operations, no longer qualifies for a maintenance contract from the manufacturer. The database itself performs approximately two thirds of the regular ongoing business functions in this chapter. The rest are handled manually. Revenue is lost, employee satisfaction is down, and the clock is ticking.

    I spoke with the person in charge of the state chapter, and he expressed concerns over the cost. My response was that service mattered most. My goal was to provide him with the best possible upgrade that would support day-to-day operations at the best possible price.

    I presented the options to him this way: "Imagine your car has broken down and is beyond repair. You need transportation. You want a Mercedes, but a Chevrolet will take you where you need to go. When I present my proposal, you will need to decide if you truly need a Mercedes, and if so, I will give you the best possible Mercedes price I can."

    One of the biggest challenges in the business world, especially when it comes to programming costs, is that customers feel that they are entitled to a Mercedes at a Chevrolet price. They feel that everything is negotiable, that vendors automatically pad their prices so that they can be negotiated down to what is fait.

    In my business, nothing could be further from the truth.

    Granted, it's not their responsibility to hire, train and pay the programmer. It's not their responsibility to pay the project manager.

    In the real world, we all want things that we can't afford. The general outcome is that we continue to want them but we don't get them.

    A business owner's responsibility is to meet the needs of their customers, to solve problems, to bring value to the table. The customer's responsibility is to pay a fair market value for services rendered.

    In situations such as the one I've described, I prepare a "good, better, best" proposal. That means that you don't get a Mercedes at a Chevy price. You get the best possible showroom-fresh Chevy I can provide at a Chevy price.

    The person in charge at the state chapter has agreed to trim services, not my fees, in order to meet his organization's needs. In return he will receive the benefits that he has prioritized for his organization.