In the previous article, I wrote about the importance of understanding your value to enable you to charge what you're worth and focussed on your expertise. In this article, I'll discuss the two other key aspects of understanding your value which are the client's need and your general self-worth.Because you don't really understand your value, you probably set your fees based on what other people in your market charge. Perhaps you've heard that you should never be the cheapest or the most expensive in your market, so you set your fees somewhere between the two extremes. However, to really appreciate the value of the work you do, you also have to understand your clients' needs.To do this, ask the client quality, open questions to find out what the problem is.Open questions are questions that can't be answered with a simple one-word answer and begin with words like 'what', 'where', 'when', 'how', 'who' or 'why'. When you ask these questions, let the client answer without interruptions, prompting or leading. Asking questions where they can only answer yes or no, will not give you the information you need.The purpose of this is to establish what "pain" the client is experiencing and how extreme that pain is. The greater the pain, the more likely they are to use your services and pay you what you're worth. Of course the reverse is also true.People use service professionals because they have a problem that they need solving. You need to find out what solving the problem will be worth to them and what will the problem cost them if it's not resolved.One of my clients, an accountant, charges his clients £175 an hour. Before he started working with me, he did a lot of work for clients that he never charged them for. Every time he did work for nothing, it was costing him £175 an hour. Obviously, that wasn't good for business. It wasn't good for him either because like many professional service providers, he had lots of internal conflict going on because he knew he should be charging for all the additional work.This is what was happening. Clients, who were paying a fixed fee for their compliance work would telephone him and ask for something extra to be done, for example cast his eye over their cash flow forecast and let them know his thoughts. He would say yes before he'd even had a chance to think, or if he did think, it went along the lines of the following: "Well I'm not actually doing any work (I.e. not creating the numbers), so I can't really charge them." And so he would do it for nothing. Even though it may have only taken half an hour or an hour to do, what would that extra piece of work be worth to the client? Would it save them from making a mistake that could cost them thousands or help them get funding they would otherwise be refused? You'll have to read the next article to find out the rest of this true story.
Exercise: Take 5-10 minutes and ask yourself the following question: What's the value I bring to my clients?The third aspect to understanding your value is self-worth. Self-worth is at the heart of everything we do and it drives our behaviour. As human beings we are motivated by pleasure or by pain. So we're either moving towards pleasure or moving away from pain.To put this into a business context, if you don't feel 100% worthy, how can you possibly charge what you're really worth? Your perception of what you're worth is too low.If someone tells you to raise your fees, it makes you feel uncomfortable. When you feel uncomfortable, what do you do? You move away from whatever is causing that discomfort. So if the idea of charging more for your work makes you feel uncomfortable, you do whatever you can to get away from that thought or feeling. You stick with the fees that you're currently charging even if that means not getting paid what you deserve for the work you do.And, if you don't value yourself, how can you value your clients? How can you treat your clients well, if you don't know how to treat yourself in the right way? The more you value yourself and the more you charge what you're worth, the more likely you are to create value for your clients.In fact, one client recently told me that since he raised his fees, he feels happier in himself and his creativity and performance are even better than they were before. This means that not only does the client get even greater value but he also has greater job satisfaction - a win/win situation.A quick way to change any negative thoughts you may have about your value into positive ones is to make a conscious effort to say positive affirmations throughout your day. Affirmations are statements that can condition your subconscious mind and help you to change harmful behaviours or accomplish goals, and they can also help undo the damage caused by negative thoughts; those things which we repeatedly tell ourselves (or which others repeatedly tell us) that contribute to a negative perception of something.Here's a great affirmation to help change your thinking about yourself and the work you do for your clients which you can start using immediately.
"I'm now creating fantastic value for my clients and in doing so am easily charging what my work is worth." Copy this affirmation onto a piece of paper and repeat it throughout your day.In the next article, I'm going to be discussing the communicating your value to clients part of the formula with more useful tips to implement.