What are you really paying for – hours or experience?

What are you really paying for – hours or experience?

Here is a statement a friend of mine posted in LinkedIn recently: “You’re not necessarily paying for my hours. You’re paying for my years of experience. Invest in quality because quick and cheap can be costly in the long run.”

It reminds me of the story of a businessman, his prestige car – which as a result of his clumsiness had a dint in the side door – and a panel beater. The businessman rushed into the panel beater’s early one morning saying he desperately needed his car fixed as he had an important appointment to attend and did not want to give a bad impression when he arrived at his prospective client’s premises.

He asked the panel beater if he could fix it immediately, how long it would take and how much it would cost. The panel beater looked at the car door for a minute, turned to the businessman and said, “Yes, I can fix it and it will cost you $2000.”

The businessman was taken aback. “$2000?” he said.

“Yes,” replied the panel beater. “I can fix it now. Do you want to proceed or not?”

Looking at his watch, the businessman said, “Yes, go ahead.”

Expecting to be waiting for a while, the businessman sat down in reception where he had a clear view of the panel beater’s workshop.

He watched the panel beater take the inside panel off the damaged door, then pick up a hammer and a pointed metal object. The panel beater then placed the pointed metal object at a spot inside the door and hit it with the hammer. Immediately the door sprang back into its original shape and looked as good as new. The panel beater then replaced the inside panel of the door and within five minutes the door was fixed.

The panel beater came over and said, “You are ready to go. That will be $2000, thank you.”

The businessman looked at the panel beater and said, “How can what you have done be worth $2000? It only took you five minutes. You are ripping me off.”

The panel beater replied: “It is not the time that you should measure my value on. My value comes from the 25 years of knowledge and experience I have cultivated that allows me to know exactly where to hit the door in the right spot so your car is returned to its original condition in the most effective and efficient manner possible. Now you can get on your way, with plenty of time to spare and go to the meeting in the full knowledge that you and your car will make the right impression.”

The businessman stood still and then took out his credit card, paid $2000 for the service, thanked the panel beater and left.

Many of us who work in the knowledge industry have had our experience and knowledge trivialised by others who do not understand the depth and breadth we must go to be able to deliver timely and precise solutions like the panel beater. To offset the issue of speed of solution and value, many consultants will take a few days to get back to a client to make it seem like they have had to put a lot of thought into the matter so they can justify their fees.

It’s ridiculous. Just because it takes one person five minutes to sort out something another person would take days or weeks to sort out does not mean that it is worth nothing.

If only people would value expertise and appreciate receiving a fast response, just like the panel beater gave the businessman, we would save a whole lot more on many levels.

As we know, it is all about perception. More power to the panel beater, I say, and let’s make sure that we stand up for all the work we have put in to build up our expertise and wisdom. It is indeed something of real value. 

Remember, everybody lives by selling something.

Sue Barrett is founder and CEO of www.barrett.com.au and www.salesessentials.com and has written 21 e-books and 500+ articles on the world of 21st century selling.


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