Getting Paid What You Are Worth

The first assumption can be based on your belief that are actually aren’t currently paid what you are worth. The second assumption could be based on your belief that you are worth more than others think you might be.

If you believe that you aren’t currently being paid what you are worth, and that you are worth more than what others think, there are some things you can do.

Know what your offering really is
Knowing what your offering really is can be a bit trickier than some people would like to believe. At a recent business meeting, a group of marketing people were asked what they did. Their collective response was they provide marketing services to clients. Fair enough, but providing marketing services is a pretty myopic view of the work they actually did. When trying to understand what your offering really is, you need to step back a bit from the obvious. Of course a marketing person would provide marketing services. But what do these marketing services actually do for a client. I recently met a marketing person who, after a bit of prompting, finally realised that her client offering was really about ‘increasing client visibility in the marketplace and driving clients to your website.’ Increasing your visibility in the marketplace and bringing potential customers to you is far more enticing to a potential client than just hearing that you provide marketing services. Think about what you do for your customers, then figuratively step back a bit and think harder about what it is you really are offering your clients.

Know what your offering will do for your potential client
If we stick with the marketing example, increasing visibility and driving potential customers to your website is a pretty attractive offering, but if you really want to get paid appropriately for what you do, you need to look at the situation systematically. When you understand what your offering really is, think in terms of cause-and-effect: Increasing visibility and driving potential customers to your website will do what for the client? More visibility and more potential customers will increase the client’s potential to make sales. More sales mean more revenues. More revenues typically result in more profits. More profit means you have a greater ability to reinvest in your company, which means you can get still more customers. This is a virtuous cycle and for a potential client, this would be bloody good news. Think about what your offering really is, and then make the connection between what you do and what difference it will make for the client.

Clearly understand what the client’s needs are
A lot of people might answer this question based on responses from their clients, but this can be a bit mis-leading. The reason is that clients often confuse what they want with what they need. Actually, they don’t confuse needs and wants; what usually happens is that they don’t even distinguish the difference between the two. Often, attempting to meet their stated ‘wants,’ even though the client may think that is what they need, will only result in delays in actually helping them out over time. For example, I met an independent contractor who does training and development work. He had been talking to a potential client who was convinced that he needed a programme in time management for some of his employees whose effectiveness wasn’t as high as he wanted it to be. But after interviewing some of the staff who were targeted for the training, it became apparent that the underlying problem wasn’t one of time management, but was one of lack of alignment around organisational goals due to the perception that some of the senior managers were not competent to lead. This is hugely different than employees who weren’t good at managing their time, and any efforts with a time management programme would have only wasted money and sent an even stronger message about the incompetence of some managers. Help your clients understand the difference between needs and wants and then make sure your offering will address their needs.

Determine what value your work will add to the client
At the end of the day, potential clients will only pay you if they think you bring value to them. If you want to get paid, you have to demonstrate to the client what that value will be, and in terms that they will understand and connect directly to their business. If the client’s business desire is to grow, then connect the value you bring to helping them achieve growth. If the desire is to consolidate previous growth and sustain it, show how your efforts will help them do it. If the desire is to increase the effectiveness of employee’s performance, make the connection between your efforts and increased employee performance. If you can’t make the connection with what you do and what they are trying to achieve, it could be perceived that your work – no matter how good it might be – doesn’t really add value. Make the connection between your offering and value add to the clients business.

Relentlessly believe in steps 1 – 4
This is a crucial step and something that many people miss. If you don’t believe in yourself and your ability to deliver the very best for your potential client, then it will be hard to convince the client. Believing in yourself and your own abilities does not mean come off as being arrogant. It means that you have a high level of confidence that you can do what you are promising the client you will do. Believe in your own capability to understand what your offering is, what it will do for the client, what the client’s needs are, and your ability to bring tangible value to the client for the work you will do.

Tell your client what you can do for them
This step seems pretty obvious, but your challenge isn’t around whether to tell the client or not; your challenge is to explain what you will do, and what your efforts will really accomplish. This means your proposal should include a connection to cause-and-effect; i.e. we will do X and it will result in Y in your organisation, which will put additional Z onto your bottom line. Simply proposing to, for example, deliver training for a number of employees isn’t very enticing. But making the connection to the training you are proposing to do and the level of effectiveness that the employees will then be able to demonstrate is enticing. And then making the connection to more effectiveness and increased profitability is still more enticing. Tell the client what you will do for them, and make the connection between what you will do and how it will make things different for the client.

Provide them with a sound rationale
In order to get the work and establish that you can add value to a client (the precursors to getting paid what you believe you are worth) requires that the client not only hears (or reads) the words, but really understands why working with you is a good thing. To do this, you need to provide a rationale for choosing you over the competition. The rationale needs to be crystal clear and laden with common sense. Good rationales typically follow either inductive or deductive reasoning logic; i.e. men are mortal, I am a man, therefore, I am mortal, or, 100% of life forms that we know of depend on liquid water to exist. Therefore, if we discover a new life form it will probably depend on liquid water to exist. The rationale you use may have several more steps to it, but it needs to ensure that the client will be able to follow it and see that you are indeed the logical person to employ. As part of your proposal, use either inductive or deductive reasoning logic so the client can clearly see that what you are proposing is the best thing for his or her company.

Don’t bargain
This step, or the lack of it, is what often can result in you not being paid what you believe you are worth. Using the same type of logic that you should use when making a proposal, it is possible to see why.

  • Prospective vendors who are willing to reduce their stated prices are desperate to get my work
  • Vendors who are desperate to get my work are either in a shaky financial situation or don’t feel confident that they can do what they promise
  • Vendors who are in a shaky financial situation may not be around to finish the work, and if they are not confident that they can do what they promise, they may not meet my expectations
  • Vendors who may go out of business or may not meet my expectations are not worth hiring
  • Therefore, a vendor who is willing to bargain about their stated prices should not be hired.

Now to be fair, in order to not be willing to bargain your prices may mean that you don’t get the work anyway. But the reality is that once you are willing to bargain, it is almost impossible to ever be credible that you should be paid what you think you are worth. If what you do and how you do it does add value for the client, then you should be able to be paid for the value you deliver. Bargaining on price will only diminish the perceived value of what you do and how you will do it.