A Message for Introverts
It would be cool if magic really worked, and just like the lady on Bewitched, you could wiggle your nose and alter the situation. However, what it really takes is clearly defining and communicating your value to your clients or boss. It is essential to being paid well for your excellent service or work and is a terribly hard thing for an introvert to do.
In my work as a coach, I have noticed that this is a subject applicable to everyone, men and women alike. It applies if you are an employee, a business owner, or someone looking for a job. Yes, it is true if you are a woman or a man. And it’s particularly true if you are an introvert.
I will not approach this from a gender point of view even though it is clear from reports created by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that women employees and business owners are often paid less than men, i.e., about 20 cents on the dollar. We all undervalue our services from time to time, and we do it, particularly if we are introverts. Introverts say things like, “I don’t like to blow my own horn,” or, “I am never comfortable singing my own praises,” or maybe you have said this one: “I’d rather let my work speak for itself.” Ever said any of those things? Yep, me too.
From time to time, we all
undervalue our services and
we do it, particularly if we are introverts.
I hear really different stories from extroverts, and since no one measures the difference between introverts and extroverts in this context, who knows what that really costs.
One Coaching Firm Experience
Here is a story about a coaching firm. It is a business that helps financial service advisors dramatically improve their activity level and, in turn, their profitability. That is part of my business. After working for several years with advisors, I noticed that the profits of the people working with me were increasing. They realized significant increases in sales and the types of clients they were acquiring. I realized that I needed to reconsider my pricing. I realized (particularly when one client offered to increase my standard rate) that I was underpriced relative to the value I was delivering to them.
It is tough for me to say that — I am an introvert.
That is part of my work. I help advisors recognize their value to their clients and the market. So I sat down and looked at my pricing. I spoke to advisors that I knew. Then revisited what I had determined was my value. At that point, I asked some fundamental questions that I had never taken the time to ask before. They were what my friend Bill Cates from the Referral Institute calls value questions. They were the following:
- What are my client’s needs, and how do I meet them?
- What is my unique skill set, and what makes me better qualified than others to serve my clients?
- What value do I add?
- What do I do that no one else does?
- What problems do I solve for my clients?
So I came up with answers to those questions and described the value that my clients get from working with me; I cornered my financial advisor, who helped me calculate their return on investment, and what I discovered was that I was underpriced by half.
I should double my price: double it!
Now I have to tell you straight up that scared the crap out of me. I am supposed to be the one who helps with this sort of thing, but there I was, suffering from the same malady that my clients suffered — undervaluing the offer. Like them, I knew the value was there; I was sure the value was there, and I was frightened out of my mind about announcing it. Imagine if no one would pay it? What if my new clients said, “That’s crazy…You are crazy!”
Was my work worth that price? Was I worth it? The more significant two questions were not about my work — it was about me. What if I go broke? What if I fail?
Still, I know it is essential to take your own medicine occasionally, the same stuff I offer my clients. I was sure that there was value there in what I provided. So when my new prospects arrived, I developed proposals with the new higher pricing, communicated my worth, and sent them out. What happened, you ask? Clients continued to hire me, refer me, and tell their friends about my work. I am still working away and sharing this little/revelatory story with you because doubts and fears are normal; we all have them. But they don’t define our value unless we let them. They only limit our earning potential when we let them. As introverts, it is so easy to let them do just that.
A Marketing Firm Story
I have a client, and he’s an introvert also. My client has recently learned to communicate his value and the value of his company to his clients. He now employs several people, each a star in their area. Now his company is more prominent, but he has trimmed things down to a size that has let him regain control over his product in the past year. A great thing, right? A while back, I heard him say, “I have a great little design and marketing company.” Yep, that is how he described it. “A great little design and marketing company.”
They had some problems in the past with quality, and most of the downsizing was a very successful effort to regain control and ensure that everything that left the building was perfect. But the way he was describing his company was having an impact on his bottom line. As an introvert, he could hardly describe it any other way. The way he was looking at his improvements — significant improvements — was costing him.
I think that his language and introverted style communicated shame for errors in the past and suggested that deep inside, he didn’t believe that he had value to offer. In other words, he was practically giving his services away. So he began the journey to take back his control to communicate value to his clients and change the message.
The first thing we worked on was the importance of finding his voice, an authentic voice and representative of what he did and what he offered. I suggested he not tap into the messages of his competition or consultants. It wasn’t who he was. He learned to step around his introversion by making it about the other person, to focus on adding value and serving, then it didn’t sound like bragging or blowing his horn. What do you love about what you do? What turns you on about your work? When you connect with those things, your value appears naturally and clearly.
What do you love about what you do?
What turns you on about your work?
So he embraced his natural voice, found his style, and changed his message. For one thing, he stopped referring to his company as a little development and marketing company. He found that over time his confidence increased when communicating his message. Now he is charging about 2.5 times as much for his work, and his business is snowballing. Meeting with clients is about the clients and not about the problems. When you let the data speak for itself, show the trends, and say directly, “Here is what we have done for you,” it sounds and feels differently. Your clients take notice as well. Rather than feeling that nauseous feeling, he gained a sense of confidence in what he was doing.
He found over time his confidence
increasing when communicating his message.
Being correctly valued is critical. It is perhaps one of the most important choices a person or business owner can make. I hope the two stories help you understand the implications of defining your value and communicating your value as two essential parts of realizing your full earning potential. That’s the story, the process for getting it done. If you are reading this and are not getting paid what you are worth, join me in a call. Let’s talk about it and see where you want to go. If you are an introvert, speaking with me could be an even more important step.
Be correctly valued.