A long time ago - in a not too distant planet …
Ok just about 10 years ago and while I was an employee...talking to my boss:
My boss wanted me to create value for my clients. When I asked him what he thought that meant he stumbled. It occurred to me that no one has ever asked that question before. He quickly regained his footing and made the statement, “Give them more than what they want”.
That really confused me. What if what they want is the value they need and want? What if more is actually not a positive thing for the client?
I went on to ask more questions about how our prospect defines value and what they could want. Keep in mind, I had started the week before in an industry that was foreign to me. Eventually, my boss shut down the questions and the statement was “Our company has been giving more value than asked for over 30 years”. He never did answer me on what that meant.
Fast forward to last year, I had a particular client who reminded me of all of this. This company was losing business, losing clients, and winning new deals only by lowering their price. Despite all of this, the CEO was positive he knew what the clients wanted and was even more sure we were delivering it. It wasn’t lack of client understanding nor that we weren’t delivering value it was something I.T. was doing. He was sure of it.
As I spent time with his team and with clients directly I learned something very different.
Value can only be determined by the Client!
So many times we hear you have to deliver value. You have to give value. Create value. That is true - now comes the hard work: To define it.
First, get an understanding of what the client wants/needs. Not just the specifications but rather the reasoning behind it. Why and what is important and what are the implications. See, focusing on the downstream impact will give you the most probability to understand what they are really trying to achieve.
Simply put - you are either helping them achieve that or you are not. If you are, How can you do more to help that goal? If you aren’t, either change or walk away.