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How to Increase Your Value.
I spoke at a conference a few weeks ago. The theme of my talk was “How to increase your value.”
When I was done, someone came up to me with their hand outstretched and a big smile on their face.
“My company needs exactly what you do. Do you do take consulting assignments?”
I told them I did, and they told me a bit about their problem and asked if I thought I could help.
“Absolutely” I responded and took a minute to describe how I work and how I help my clients.
I told them, “In a nutshell, I can help increase your value.”
They said my recommendations for how we would work together sounded perfect. And while my price was high, it sounded well-worth it. They asked me to email a letter of agreement, documenting our discussion and laying out next steps.
To make it as clear as possible, the proposal was titled: “How to Increase Your Value.”
I sent it that same afternoon and waited for their response.
But instead of a signature, and a go ahead, I got this:
It was a pleasure speaking with you yesterday. Congratulations again on a great presentation. I want to thank you for taking your time to speak to me and sending me your proposal.
I am from the Oscar Wilde camp where I always look at the value of things rather than the price. I believe you could provide tremendous value to our company. As an entrepreneur, I believe that there is no price that is too high to help my company.
With that being said, our situation comes with many uncertainties. And given the fact that even after your consultation, many issues will still exist, I have a multitude of concerns:
- Will we be able to do what you suggest?
- Will we be able to stick to your prescribed program?
- Will the program work for us? etc. etc. etc.
Your consultation will probably save me some time trying to figure this out for myself, and although I have found other available resources, my instincts tell me you are one of the top practitioners and exactly the right person for the job.
Taking all these factors into account, I can offer you $XXX for your service. Please understand that I am in no way downgrading the value of your work or the expertise you provide, but this is the number that works for me, taking into account all the variables.”
I look forward to hearing your thoughts and I look forward to working with you.
My thoughts were simple…
We simply won’t be working together.
Besides the fact that we had already made an agreement that they were now reneging on, how could I possibly do a good job for this client? Each line of the explanation was a flashing neon warning of how difficult they would be to work with.
- “I believe that there is no price that is too high to help my company.” Well, that’s clearly not true. If it were, we wouldn’t need to talk about price at all, would we?
- “Given the fact that even after your consultation, many issues will still exist…” Of course many issues will still exist. I never suggested that hiring me would make every single business issue go away, only that I will create new solutions that you haven’t thought of to help increase your value. And besides, it’s my job to craft the best solutions. It’s your job to implement them.
- “Your consultation will probably save me some time trying to figure this out for myself…” Probably??!! C’mon. If you could have done this yourself you would have done that already, wouldn’t you?
- “I can offer you $XXX for your service.” The offer was less than one third of what we’d already agreed on the day before.
- “I am in no way downgrading the value of your work or the expertise you provide.” Hmmm… Well maybe you are and maybe you aren’t. But lucky for me, I know the value of my work and expertise, as do my scores of satisfied and successful clients.
- “I look forward to hearing your thoughts…” Actually, no, you don’t.
Look, it’s not my job to tell people how to behave, nor to point out the simple roadblocks that might be keeping them from the very success they’re trying to achieve. But it is my job to be scrupulous about the choices I make concerning how I’m going to spend my time, whom I’m going to spend it working for, and what I’m going to charge for that work.
Just like it’s your responsibility to do the very same thing for yourself.
Simply put, it’s our job to know our value.
Of course, I didn’t tell the potential client any of this.
I simply said, “No thank you.”
I also didn’t tell them that what Oscar Wilde (Wilde is one of my favorite authors, by the way) actually wrote was, “Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.”
Bruce, excellent post! For me it was very timely as my wife and I were looking at an expensive Italy trip. The tour company provided a one sheet itinerary and insisted on all kinds of deadlines and deposits – where was the value? Thanks for pointing out that value comes before price.
Sounds like you have a great trip planned Michael. Every time Gloria and I talk about where we should go we always add: “…we could go back to Italy.” Have a great time.
Great post! A workman’s worthy of his/her hire. I always come back to prospects like this with the question, “Do you give away your service/products?” Love to know what he sells/makes and do role reversal on him.
That is a terrific strategy, George, IF you want the account. But after reading the letter I got, and after the prospective client went back on their handshake, I had no interest in continuing the relationship nor in working for them.
Damian and I were just having a similar discussion regarding the value of his “work” time. Thanks for sharing! You have brought clarity 🙂
Glad you found it useful Lori. Working with Damian last year I learned that he never questions his own value!!
Great story, Bruce. I’m sure many of us can relate. I can deal with people who are unprofessional and, to some degree, disrespectful, but when you compromise your company’s and your own integrity, you’re on a slippery slope.
Perhaps the mistake we make is that we expect them to respect who we are and what we do without realizing that we have to set those standards first ourselves. And, just as important, we have to stick to it.
Apparently, the client does not value their company very highly either. This is not; Lets Make A Deal. There were too many issues in the company for you to address successfully, without blowback. It happened to me and I learned an expensive lesson.
Thanks for the insight.
Now THAT’S some terrific insight, Sherry. Their points weren’t actually a comment on my value, they were really commenting on their own value (or lack thereof).
Thanks Randy. Always good to have you wade in.