Why should I do business with you?

All things being equal, people want to do business with their friends.

All things being not quite equal, people STILL want to do business with their friends.

- Jeffrey Gitomer in The Little Red Book of Selling

I love this quote and this book. Brandon Keepers posed a question over a couple beers (well OK, maybe more than a couple beers):

If a client asks you: "Why should I do business with you?", how would you answer?

It was a great question. I took a long pull of my Poet and stammered an answer. After thinking about the question a couple days, here's my (sober) answer "because I'm honest, I work very hard, and I have a blast doing what I do".

Here's the longer version:

Differentiators

I consider the following as ways for a company to set themselves apart from their competitors.

Cost : How much does it cost for your services or for your product?

Expertise and Experience : How much experience do you have with the tools you're working with and the problems you're working on? Are you considered a leader in your community?

Influence : Do you have an audience that your clients also wants to connect with? Do you have certain investment or new business contacts that your clients want you to make introductions?

Fundamentals

These are the fundamentals I feel successful businesses have to address if they want to provide value for their clients.

Authenticity : Are you honest are you about what you're selling and your ability to meet certain commitments?

Hard Work : Do you care about what you're doing and more importantly who you're doing it for? What is the quality of your work? How often do you put yourself in your client's shoes to better serve their needs?

A Great Attitude : Are you fun to work with? Do your clients dread picking up the phone or having you drop by or do they walk away with a better attitude? Do you make your clients feel ignorant when they ask questions? Do you listen to feedback well?

Mixed Priorities

I see many companies focusing on ways to differentiate themselves and ignore the fundamentals at the same time. Don't get me wrong, I think the differentiators are great, but only when they build from the fundamentals.

I'm a reasonably smart guy, and I've been around the block many times building applications using Ruby/Rails. But my experience, my network, and even my cost are all secondary to providing value through hard work and honesty. As well as being able to do it in a way that makes it a lot of fun for both my clients and myself.

I want to hear from you

What I love about this outlook is that there are no barriers to the doing the fundamentals well. They are difficult to do well, hell I'm constantly learning new ways to better apply them, but you can start immediately. Your experience, expertise and network are all built over time.

What has been your experience? I want to hear from both companies who provide their services as well as from clients who have had great and less-than-great interactions.