As entrepreneurs, one of the keys to survival and success is to provide value to our clients. But the word “value” is often tossed around without much thought; it’s easy to lose sight of exactly what it means.
Value defined: the importance or preciousness of something; an amount, of goods, services or money, considered a fair equivalent for something else; the regard that something is held to deserve; a fair price or return.
What value means to your clients
That’s tricky, because value is in the eye of the beholder. Some customers mistake the lowest-priced service as the best value. We all know that doesn’t usually stand true, but getting the buyer to see that can be difficult. Unless you’re selling a commodity service, one that has lots of competition and can be provided equally as well by nearly everyone in your field, cheap doesn’t correlate with value.
With professional services, quality can vary from provider to provider and generally clients will need to pay a little bit more for expertise, a higher level of responsiveness to their needs, and superior results. Some clients understand and embrace that. Others just don’t get it.
What value means to you
If you care about what you do and your clients, providing value doesn’t pose a challenge; convincing the occasional skeptical client does.
2 very short stories for some perspective:
- Last week, a new prospect contacted me by email about editing a business book manuscript. I quoted him my standard editing rates, and he told me that my rates were very much out of line with another quote. As most freelancers, I’m always willing to negotiate to accommodate tight budgets, but when he shared the price point the other editor bid, I nearly fell out of my chair! I would have sooner done it pro bono (don’t tell him that!) to preserve my dignity and self-respect, than take on a project with compensation so far outside the realm of reasonableness.
- I recently worked with another client who was initially hesitant (always understandable when someone works with a freelancer for the first time), but after he saw the finished product, he expressed great gratitude and was one of the fastest-paying clients I’ve ever worked with.
The second story had a happy ending. The first never went past the preface despite my efforts to communicate the value (quality, time and attention, responsiveness…) that I deliver.
And that will sometimes happen when you’re aware of – and stand up for – the value you provide. You’ll win some, and you’ll lose some. But really, you’ll never “lose” if you price your services to be fair to both your client and to yourself based on the value you bring to the table.
Have you ever been faced with defending the value of your services? Ever walk away from a prospect who was clearly buying on price rather than quality?
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