During one of our recent group coaching calls, we were discussing the difference between deliveringvalue and demonstratingvalue when communicating with our customers. When I’m training technicians, I see a certain disconnect take place when it comes to defining the difference between delivery and demonstration. Delivering value is doing what you say you will do. It means being thorough with the work you perform and executing it at the highest level for your customers, even if they don’t realize it.

In contrast, demonstrating value is the act of making absolutely sure your customers understand exactly what you do for them and differentiating your company from the sea of sameness that exists with your competition.

I’m a believer in driving home critical points, and this month I want to share an experience that will tie this together for you. Earlier this year, the lovely Christy and I were in Las Vegas doing some business coaching and planning with a client, as well as taking in a little rest and relaxation. On our last evening in town, we made a choice to go to the Paris hotel and take the elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Upon arrival, after spending some time in the casino, we decided to grab some tap water from the bar to bring along with us on our journey to the top.

We walked up to the bar and ordered a couple glasses of tap water.The bartender quickly informed us there was a drink minimum at this bar. Now, understand this wasn’t a special nightclub or anything; we were just standing at a simple bar in the middle of the casino floor. We still asked about some tap water and he sharply said, “I can serve you tap water for $4 per glass.”

As a businessperson and sales trainer, I completely realize the importance of having certain minimums and seeking all avenues to generate profits, but $4 for a glass of tap water?! We didn’t ask for a bottle of Evian here! He insisted he’d serve us tap water in a plastic cup for $4 each and that’s it, period. Understand we had already been doing some gambling and paid for adult beverages in this casino prior to this transaction.

Is this really the balance we are seeking between operations, customer care and profitability? Wouldn’t it make a little more sense to give us a free service such as tap water in order to keep us in the casino a little bit longer so it can continue to “pick our pockets” like only Vegas has mastered? Wouldn’t we feel better about the company and staying there longer if we got good service for something that is a free commodity? Not only is this a commodity, but it’s a commodity that is very hard to create any value around.

I hope everyone reading this understands the importance I place on running a profitable company and that it is our responsibility as leaders to make this happen. But, in the midst of your value proposition for profitability, you cannot lose your customer. The customer must feel and understand the value proposition completely. You must be able to demonstrate the value of using your company and purchasing your services instead of doing business with your competition.

I’m certain the Paris casino has a goal surrounding number of drinks sold vs. drinks given away on the casino floor to gamblers. I truly appreciate and respect the strategies of profitable companies. However, as business people, we must demonstrate the value for our clients when it comes to a commodity product such as tap water (or toilet flappers, in our world). I can understand this water is being served in a multibillion dollar establishment and they have a massive amount of overhead, but somehow help me understand the value of $4 tap water!

What’s in it for me?

I’ll buy $4 water all day long, but I need to know what makes it worth the four bucks. The same is true for our companies. Don’t just assume because your box truck is called to a job that your potential customer thinks you’re worth the money you are forced to charge in order to make a fair profit. You must continue to educate your customers and demonstrate to them everything that makes your company, your technicians and your entire team better and different.

In order to do this effectively, we must continually train, coach and ride along with our team members so they can recognize blind spots that exist regarding their value demonstration system.

When I’m in the field riding with my customers’ technicians, I see so many team members who have really good hearts and truly want to do what is right for their customers. In fact, invariably they execute what is in the customer’s best interest. The breakdown comes in when they don’t effectively communicate what they will do, are doing or have already done within the customer’s home.

Whether your technician is installing an under-sink emergency shutoff valve, a kitchen faucet or a water heater, the demonstration of value must be part of the process. This is where the importance of customer involvement is so crucial to our success. In our 12-Step “Ultimate Customer Experience Service Call” process, we teach technicians to involve customers and begin building rapport immediately upon arriving at the home in order to build a relationship by the time they make a presentation.

Too often I see technicians do a good job of gaining trust early on and getting authorization to perform the work, but then once they get the tools on and begin turning wrenches, the customer gets lost in the background until the work is complete. It’s important to re-engage the customer from time to time while performing the work.

Have your technicians get used to having the customer take a look at a few different stages of the work during an installation of any kind. Most technicians wait until they are completely cleaned up and the installation is finished before asking the customer to look at the work they performed. In order to effectively demonstrate value, the customer needs to see the various stages involved in the process. Otherwise, at the end of the call, he can end up feeling as if he just bought a $4 glass of tap water, and nobody wants that.

 Our business is not a commodity and customers need to understand the value in what we are doing. It’s not enough for us to understand the value we’re delivering; our technicians need to demonstrate it so that our customers feel great about every aspect of our interaction. Don’t just deliver value to your customers; demonstrate it as well.