- stopped talking about what you can do and now talk only about the business problems about which your prospects and clients care. In other words, you've become relevant.
- translated your industry knowledge into company-specific ideas that your clients can apply. So, you're also useful.
Now you can aspire to become Valuable.
Value refers to the relationship between the client's perceptions of worth, utility, or importance of the impact attributable to you, and the amount they paid you to obtain that. It applies equally to prospects and contacts. Value goes beyond dollars, to include their time and attention, calendar space allocated, etc. (BTW, let's dump the tiresome cliche, "value added." All value is added, either in fact by the seller, or as perceived by the buyer.)
The key to measuring value is the degree to which your usefulness, i.e., what you did for the client, conveyed positive economic impact. Did it improve the value of the company's strategic position, operational effectiveness and financial health, and individual clients' career success and personal well-being? If so, you're probably perceived as valuable.
This may not feel intuitive at first. Lawyers often seek client favor or -preference by emphasizing credentials, i.e., legal skills, experience and expertise. But that's me-focused, and hopelessly outdated.
Instead, shift your focus away from what you do and how well you do it. How much impact does your client perceive from your industry awareness, ideas, analysis, work product, communication, organization, commitment, etc.?
Consider these approaches to gauging your value...
- Conduct a post-engagement review. After the client tells you how well you performed, thank them, then ask, "How much of a difference did we make?"
- Probe to understand this in useful detail. This causes the client to express impact and value in her own words (and raises your odds of collecting your entire bill).
- If the difference you made was marginal, ask what you could have done. [Hint: Something in the way you're currently organized and delivering service is preventing it.]
- Evaluate your service delivery process to see how it must change to meet the client's value standard. Only then promise the higher standard.
- Have an objective third party periodically interview your client on your behalf to find out how and whether you're making a difference.
Next week: Indispensability