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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:
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.”