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Sell the conversation when selling yourself, proposes Michelle Golden at AAM Summit

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June 8, 2011

Value should hold more weight in proposals, according to Michelle Golden, president of St. Louis-based firm consultancy Golden Practices, during her “Proposals That Rock (and Win)” session during the Association for Accounting Marketing Summit in Chicago today.

This means stopping the “vicious circle” of “competing on price alone,” Golden told the packed room of marketing professionals.

“You become a commodity, and you gain a non-euphoric attitude about” the project, she continued.

Firms can combat this in part by offering different levels of service and corresponding price points.

“Options have anchoring effects,” Golden stated. For the potential client, “it turns the conversation from: should I work with this firm to how should I work with this firm.”

Golden presented one example of multiple levels of service, with green, gold and platinum options wherein one element of the platinum package, for example, would include “first-class” response to client needs during after-work hours.

“Pricing discriminates,” Golden explained. “And that’s okay.”

Connecting value to the cost is one clear way of communicating it, according to Golden, but the conversation should go both ways.

“The value conversation is what you’re selling,” she said. The product or service “has value unknown to you, unless you have a conversation with that [potential client].” For example, she continued, a cosmetics counter employee will often ask about the occasion for a customer’s lipstick purchase.

These intangible values, though not necessarily recognized by firm leadership, are “far more compelling” than the tangible elements like cost and time, she said.