Don’t ignore competition.

Sales gurus, business owners, and visionaries love to ignore the competition. Their narrative of “sell on value” is something they want to believe, but don’t usually assess the necessary requirements to do so.

The world is filled with business consultants teaching “sell on value, not on cost” and while they have great intentions, more times than not, they leave out the other part, “when you have something unique to offer.” Probably because their skills align with first part, and not with the second, so if you want to hire them, it’s to teach you to “sell on value” not to “create a unique offering.”

Why do you need something unique?

Start by thinking through the answer to the question, “Why isn’t there a huge percentage of programmers out there making millions of dollars a year?”

There are plenty of programmers that automate tasks that save companies millions per year. Yet, they don’t seem to reap the rewards of “selling on value.”

Are they bad at selling?

Probably. That’s certainly what those gurus want you to think. It’s how they sell their training, but that’s not what’s happening here. Sales skills aside, depending on which job titles to include, there are anywhere from 1.5 million to 3+ million programmers in the United States alone. That’s a lot of competition.

If you need general programming done, and it can save the company $10,000,000 and a solo consultant says he will need $1,000,000 and 12 months of work, you’ll shop for more quotes and he won’t get it. Doesn’t matter that there is a great return on investment, netting $9,000,000 in savings on a $1,000,000 investment. He’s too high compared to the competition. The company would rather net, $9,900,000 on a $100,000 investment. A nearly 10X return-on-investment compared to the previous scenario.

There are a few highly sought after developers at Google, and Amazon and other big tech companies that make millions. Currently, these are leading edge researchers in Artificial Intelligence (AI). They are being paid enormous amounts because:

  1. The value of the work they are doing can lead to new lines of business measured in the billions.
  2. There are only a handful of people in the world that have the full background necessary to do the work they do. Programming skills + business understanding + advanced research, Ph.D and Post Doc in Artificial Intelligence.

#2 is important. They aren’t a “me too” offering. If someone wanted to replace them today, and had not already done their Ph.D, they are still years away from being able to compete with them for that amount of money. However, these are also the people generating the knowledge to grow the coming workforce necessary to develop and manage the new applications arising around AI.

As Artificial Intelligence (AI) becomes more prevalent, salaries will come down as a result of higher competition. No one is going to pay the lead developer $5,000,000/yr when the up and comer with the same skills will be happy with $250,000/yr. Which is still good, compared to the general population. There is less competition for AI jobs than the general job pool, since most people don’t have the qualifications, and they solve high value problems, so wages are high.

I used programming as an example here, but the industry doesn’t matter specifically.  Three general thoughts that come to mind as a result of this:

  1. To “sell on value” it is imperative to have a product or service unique enough that if searched in Google will only yield you, or nothing at all.
  2. Offer something of significant value.
  3. Understand that constant seeking of new unique ideas is important.

Innovation is a ratchet. Someone else is always seeing you and chasing you, the early benefits go to your pockets, the later benefits go to society. Be an innovator to get those dollars.

P.S. Share this with someone who needs to read it like your sales team or manager, small business owner, or a technical team that needs some motivation to make something new and unique. Also check out more on .