Quality (Service) is Like Buying Oats

July 6, 2011 | Justin Gray | No Comments |

When I was a kid my father had this plaque hanging on the wall in his office. The simple plaque of wood and metal read bluntly

Quality is Like Buying Oats

Like most children I grew up with very idyllic views of both my parents, and especially my father. Over the years some feelings fade – and eventually we all realize no one is the superman/woman we envisioned them to be when we were small (when superhuman strength was defined mainly by lifting things) – but some things never fade. For me that was the quality that my fathers work represented.

An Architect and a Builder, to say that my father did things his way was an understatement. Un-compromising. Driven. Relentless. Those are some of the words I use to describe him. Now into his 60s he still exhibits those traits and unlike many people’s fathers – he has not gotten soft with age. In fact he and I own a business together – an organic farm – just to make sure I have enough aggravation and stress in my life.

Anyway, back to the plaque. He kept this plaque up on the wall and although he never cited it with a client or with me, that maxim seemed to drive his actions everyday – in a very uncompromising way. Below the heading was a bit more of an explanation. It read,

“If you want nice fresh oats you have to pay a fair price. If you can be satisfied with oats that have already been thru the horse, that comes a little cheaper.”

I always thought that saying was both funny and extremely true, even at a young age. I never really stopped and considered how that phrase would shape my life, but it has. I’ve worked in a lot of environments and sold a lot of things and services. Some have been good, some have been great. You always know when something is great because the fear, the apprehension, the doubt seems to immediately float away, and are replaced by passion. When I got my first job I got a swift lesson in ‘good’. Shortly after September 11 no one was hiring. The first employment opportunity that popped up, I jumped on. It sucked. It was a dying product sold by dying people. I stayed there for the longest three years of my life and at the end I knew that I never wanted to do ‘good’ again.

This brings us many years into the future and into the realm of the ‘great’. If you are a marketer and you are somehow progressive enough to know what Marketing Automation is, and perhaps more importantly what it represents, then you just may be on the edge of ‘great’. If you’re like many organizations you may be considering working with a consulting firm to shorten the learning curve or to streamline your sales and marketing funnel during the rollout. And if you’re like all buyers who buy, you want to get more than you pay for. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s simply human nature. But think twice about what discounting a service means. At the end of the day, service based organizations (like LeadMD) trade time for money. If you’re considering a service organization that discounts their time – what does that say? Why is their time worth less?

Maybe more importantly, why in a blue ocean of business where information is worth its weight in Gold (and these days that’s saying something) would someone bend over backward to de-value his or her time? I don’t have the answer here, I certainly have an opinion.

What I can tell you for a fact is that an imbalance will always correct itself. Before you ever consider working with a service based business I would strongly advise you to speak with their past customers. We do. We speak to them all the time after they have gone through an “implementation” or “consulting session” with a competitor.

By that time they’ve not only wasted money with a “cheaper” provider but they’re also been throwing hefty Marketing Automation software costs down the drain waiting for help. That’s where that imbalance comes in. The old triangle of Time, Money, Quality comes into play. You can have two, but not all three. Anytime you feel like you were sold all three – one will fail. I choose to remove price from the equation. I will charge you what is fair and with that I will promise a timely project and more importantly one rooted in quality that you will not need to do twice.

Don’t have the money?

That’s fine; we often provide some building block items free of charge, like worksheets, tips, or our plethora of online resources. I believe not only in educating buyers but also forming relationships that will nurture over time. I’ll make recommendations on where to start, software to consider in the meantime or even firms to work with if they are looking for more basic help – but the competitors that promise all three sides of that triangle – I never recommend. Those oats have already been through the horse.

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