“It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little”: A lesson in pricing and value

17 Mar 2013

Last week as part of a client service review programme for a patent attorney client I spent a very interesting our with the business development director of an engineering company.

Like most client satisfaction interviews (especially those with satisfied clients) the conversation went all over the place but while I looked around the room a quote pinned to the wall caught my eye.  It was from John Ruskin.

“It's unwise to pay too much, but it's worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money - that's all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do.

The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot - it can't be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better.”

During the course of our work helping lawyers and accountants with their marketing and business development, I think it’s fair to say pricing is an emotive subject. 

However, many still think of it as a barrier to sales rather than a reason for purchase.  More worryingly, all too often a fee earner’s impulse is to cut fees rather than take time to underline the value they represent.

To me this quote summarises what needs to considered when you're pricing the professional services you offer.  More importantly, it gives you the perfect comeback should someone question your fees.


Posted by Douglas  |   1 Comments


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