This morning I took a taxi to a conference. The taxi was clean, the driver was polite, and he took me directly to my destination. It was good service, and I paid him about $6.00 for the value that he created (plus his tip). That is Level 1 value creation. It’s a commodity. Any other taxi driver would have done as well for exactly the same money.
But yesterday I had a very different experience. As I was walking out of the airport, a tall man dressed in a nice pinstriped suit greeted me. “Excuse me, sir,” he said. “Are you going to get a taxi?” When I told him that I was, he asked: “Would you consider taking a town car for $35?” That’s a little more than a taxi, but I assumed it was also going to be a better experience. It was.
The driver came back in a nice Mercedes Benz. He took my luggage. He had a couple bottles of cold water in the cup holders. He had an unread copy of the newspaper on the seat. He also had a couple magazines in the back of the front seat. He was polite, smart, and funny. This was a better experience. That’s Level 2 value creation.
The driver is an independent guy, and he is hustling. I took his business card, and I will use him whenever I am in this city. His value creation made him worth paying more, and I gave him a better tip for his effort in making my trip a better experience.
This same dynamic of value creation at work in the stories of the taxi driver and the town car driver is also at work in business-to-business sales organizations. Value creation at level 3 is very much like our taxi driver. It is the foundational level for business-to-business sales organizations. Producing business results is the minimum acceptable standard, and it can easily be duplicated. Even though you produce the business result that your client needs, others can likely do the same. It’s easy to end up commoditized over time, and commoditization makes it more difficult to be paid more.
This is why it is critical that you work to become a Level 4 Value Creator, someone that creates a strategic level of value. By producing a greater level of value than the business result alone, you make yourself (and your offering) worth paying more to obtain. You do this by helping your client figure out what to do next. You become their go to subject matter expert. You do some of their thinking for them. You act as part of their management team. You treat their outcomes as if they were your own. You turn up the heat and you make things happen.
You are going to be paid for the value that you create for your clients. For little value creation, you earn little money. For greater value, you earn greater money. You are the sharp end of the spear. Make yourself worth paying more to obtain.
What do you do to make yourself worth paying more?
What could you do for your clients that make you more valuable?
How could you break out of the commodity trap?
What could you do that would allow you to create a greater level fo value and make it difficult for your competitors to duplicate?