September 29, 2018

Wanna buy a couch?

What if the experience of buying a couch was like this:

Alice: “Hi! I’d like to buy a couch.”

Bob: “Okay, we’ll get a couch to you in a few months. Just sign here.”

Alice: “But... I haven’t told you what sort of couch I’m looking for yet.”

Bob: “We’ll figure that out along the way. We are passionate about couches. We are couch experts. We use the best couch techniques in the industry. We sell amazing couches to smart people. You can trust us.”

Alice: “Um... okay I guess...? Well, anyway... how much would it cost?”

Bob: “Probably about $500 per week. Maybe $1000 some weeks if we really go nuts.”

Alice: “Per week?” How many weeks will it take?“

Bob: ”At least three months. Maybe six. Hard to say.“

Alice: ”Well... I don’t know. I mean, what if it doesn’t end up fitting where I want to put it? Can I return it for a refund?“

Bob: ”Nope, no refunds.“

Alice: ”So let me get this straight... You can’t tell me if the couch will definitely suit my needs, or when you’ll have it to me, or how much it’ll cost. You want me to start making weekly payments to you, the amounts of which will be unspecified and irregular, and you want me to do this for an indefinite period of time. And if the final product doesn’t do what I need it to do, I cannot get a refund under any circumstances. Do I have that right?“

Would you buy a couch under these circumstances?

No. Nobody would. It would be nuts.

But ask yourself...

Are you selling your services the same way Bob is selling his couches?

To be clear, I’m not saying that a couch and a custom software project are the same thing. What I am saying is that this is a terrible approach no matter what you’re selling.

I’d be willing to bet that virtually everything you buy is sold more like this:

If you can’t sell your services like this, it might be time to rethink your services.