Fluffy Dagobah CaveEntering unknown territory is scary. Add in fog, a cryptic teacher, and larger than life nemesis and you get the cave on Dagobah.

In The Empire Strikes Back Luke Skywalker decides to enter a creepy cave during his Jedi training with Master Yoda. Although Yoda tells Luke weapons aren’t necessary, and he will only find what he brings in, Luke still grabs his lightsaber before entering. The scene that follows is pivotal in Luke’s training to become a true Jedi.

Want to become a master of charging (and getting!) what you’re worth? Then…

Enter the Cave you must.

This post is part of the monthly Word Carnival series of posts. This month, our carnies take on the challenge of knowing your value and conveying it to clients so that you can charge what you’re worth – and get it! Read the rest of the Word Carnival posts here for more great advice from some of the smartest business owners and entrepreneurs you’ll meet.

The cave represents the experience of selling your products or services.
Close your eyes and let a scene form in your mind. The cave entrances leads to… what? Let your mind fill in the blanks, don’t force the answer. Yeah I know it sounds hokey, but remember when Yoda lifted the X-Wing out of the swamp? Don’t doubt the little green guy!

How do the people inside greet you?

As the scene takes shape, consider the actions of your prospective clients. Are they testing your product? Comparing your service to that offered by others? Are they arguing with you over price? Complaining about quality?

Take a moment to write down the answers (since we don’t have George Lucas recording it all).

In the movie LUKE strikes first, not Darth Vader. He wins the imaginary fight, but realizes that he’s only defeated himself.

In a situation where you expect to be attacked (figuratively) over pricing or service levels, it’s easy to just strike first. Get them before they get you. The best offense is a good defense right?

The strike first mentality may take shape in a number of ways. Here are just a few examples:

  1. You know your price isn’t the lowest, so you quote something much lower.
  2. You’ve often heard your product compared to company XYZ, so you start out by point out all the negatives about them.
  3. You’re worried they just won’t see the value in what you offer, so you throw in enough freebies to fill a Star Destroyer.

Unfortunately in the world of sales these actions are far more likely to hurt you, just like Luke hurt himself. Here’s how:

  1. If you don’t charge enough you’ll never make a profit. No you can’t make it up on volume. Consider this. If you sell one widget at a loss of $10 then if you sell 1,000 at the same price you’ll lose $10,000! Why would you pay someone to use your products?
  2. Trash talking a competitor isn’t professional. It makes you look petty and insecure. Highlight your strengths and advantages, your customers can figure out the rest.
  3. First of all this brings you the same problem as #1, except instead of changing the price you’ve just increased the services they get. The problem is those services cost time and money – where will it come from? Your profit. Instead of holding an everything must go fire sale, focus on the value your customer will receive. The value doesn’t have to be in dollars. It could be improved health, more engaged workforce, better productivity, or a logo that doesn’t your clients play 20 questions. If you can’t articulate the value of what you sell, why would anyone buy it?

Walk through this exercise with other “strike first” scenarios you can imagine. What is the possible negative outcome? If you get stuck, try brainstorming this with a colleague.

How do you feel as you enter cave?

Luke entered the cave fearfully. His fear drove his actions – attack first – which ultimately led to his defeat in the cave on Dagobah.

Now I’m not going to suggest you run off to a tall mountain and accost a Buddhist Monk to get a calm zen-like mentality. Besides the fact that it’s unlikely that monk has even seen Star Wars, it’s really not a practical solution.

Having strong feelings of fear, anxiety, worry, hope, concern and more are completely normal when you are selling to a potential client. The trick is to acknowledge them, and how you react to them.

Write down the feelings you usually have when selling. Now take each feeling and consider what you usually do as a reaction to that feeling. Does fear of losing a sale make you proactively offer a deep discount? Next time you consider offering that deep discount stop and think for a minute. Why do you want to do it? And what is the impact on your business?

Learn from Yoda Nicole Now You Will

Charging a fair price, and selling others on the value of your products and services isn’t as daunting as it may first appear.

Keep in mind the following:

  • Be Prepared Sounds simple, yet how many times have you failed to consider the value to a specific customer before a meeting? Or considered which strengths you want to highlight given who else you know they are considering? Also be sure to have a firm price in mind. If they ask for a lower one, then offer to remove a service or upgrade to meet their price point.
  • The Death Star Meteor Scenario Bring your fears down to size. It’s easy to build up a meeting or sale. We’ve all done it. “I HAVE to get this sale or it’s all over.” Not really. If a huge meteor hits the Earth tomorrow THEN it’s all over. Suddenly failing to get one sale isn’t as bad as it seemed two minutes ago.
  • No’s can lead to Yes I’ve won a number of clients through the years that initially said no to me. Some even hired another firm and then came back later for help! The trick here is to remain professional, reiterate why you offer what you do, the value to them, and that the door is always open. Wish them good luck and mean it if they go with someone else. No one is going to come back if they expect to hear “I told you so”.

Final Thoughts

In the end Luke realized his own fears and action were his worst enemy, more powerful than Darth Vader himself. I can’t promise it will ever be easy to sell your products and services at a fair price. I can promise that it will get easier over time, and you may even have a few Darth Vader conversions of your own.

Sound off below on what you found in your cave. Were you surprised? How will you handle it in the future?