December 21, 2020

Map, compass, guide

Let’s say you have a lot of experience driving people from NYC to LA.

When people ask what you do, you’d probably say:

“I drive people from NYC to LA.”

But if you’re really an expert at executing this particular road trip, that would be just one way to package your expertise for sale (and a fairly limiting one, at that).

If instead, you thought of yourself as someone who is an expert at driving people from NYC to LA, then you could offer prospective clients three options instead of just the one.

Doing so increases the odds of landing the client, while decreasing the odds of leaving money on the table.

If we extend the road trip metaphor, the three options would look something like this:

Map - For the “map”, you would meet with the client to understand the experience that they want to have (e.g., fastest vs safest vs most scenic).

Then you would put together a detailed map with routes and sites to see and gas stations and where to stop for the night and so forth.

This in and of itself is a valuable application of your expertise and it wouldn’t cost much of your time to put together.

Compass - I’m using the term compass here loosely to refer to some sort of toolkit or instrumentation that you would provide to the client to help them deal with the inevitable surprises that will crop up along the way to the destination.

Something that would help get them back on track when things don’t go exactly according to plan.

The compass adds additional value on top of the map, and might not take much more of your time.

Guide - In this option, you would be along for the entire ride. This would be by far the most costly option for you to deliver, and therefore would have to be quite a bit more expensive then either of the other two options in order for you to make anything resembling a decent profit.

This makes option three hard to sell, and hard to scale.

Here’s the thing...

Lots of folks who normally do implementation only sell themselves as the guide - i.e., an experienced craftsperson who is along for the entire project with their sleeves rolled up and hands dirty.

But if you’re actually recognized as an expert at what you do, you might be a lot happier (and more profitable) selling maps and compasses.