Saturday, October 31, 2015

Terms of Endearment

The role terms play in the marketing mix isn't discussed outside the pages of the Harvard Business Review.

But your terms matter to prospects.

Here's a case study.

Recently, Bob (yours truly) shopped Craigslist for the services of a freelance editor, on his employer's behalf. Based on his Craigslist ad, Steven seemed a capable choice. Bob phoned Steven, described the project, and sent him background materials.

Below, verbatim, is their email exchange immediately after that call.

From Steven to Bob

I've read over the attached documents and have a good grasp on what you want in terms of the scope of the editing. I can realistically accommodate the edits for the 400 documents you've stipulated for $475 and have them ready within your two month time-frame. Or, if you'd like them ready within one month's time, I could accommodate that for $599. Just let me know which option you choose. Also, if there are any other stylistic recommendations you have for the revisions go ahead and send those over to me. I accept Google Wallet for payment. To proceed, go ahead and send your payment, via Wallet, to me and then I can confirm, put this on my schedule and get started.

From Bob to Steven

Wow, I think you are underpricing this project. A few thoughts:
  • How much time do you think you’d devote to each document?
  • Advance payment on line won’t work. We can pay in installments or a lump sum, but only as satisfactory work is delivered.
  • Doesn’t the style guide I sent you make clear the “stylistic recommendations” desired?
From Steven to Bob

You're right. I sent you a quote meant for a different client. Realistically, I could accommodate this within 2 month's time for $3,500 or within one month's time for $3,999. However, I do not accept checks (they have that pesky ability to bounce...) and I do not do work without a payment, or at least a serious deposit, in advance. You came to me so please abide by the processes that I work by. Otherwise, I'd have to deny this request due to lack of seriousness. The only other payment methods I accept are Square Cash, Chase Quickpay or bank transfer.

As the Harvard Business Review might put it, "Steven's terms erected a considerable obstacle to Bob the Buyer's consideration."

By insisting on online prepayment, Steven demonstrated he works only with students and, perhaps, the occasional entrepreneur. He failed to grasp, in this case, his prospect represented an 88 year-old, multibillion company with customers like McDonald's and Microsoft.

The rest of their email exchange follows, again verbatim.

From Bob to Steven

No thanks, Steven.

From Steven to Bob

No skin off my nose. You're obviously a joker or a scammer. Before you waste more time trolling the Craigslist ads like a desperate prostitute, you should know that no self-respecting professional is going to be doing any work without payment upfront. Perhaps if you weren't a senior citizen you'd realize this is how commerce in the 21st century works.

Do your terms cost you customers?

How about your manners?
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