Do you undervalue yourself? The answer, if you’re like most of us, is probably yes – at least some of the time. I wrote this post originally in response to a magician who was wildly under-charging with his fees, but actually I think the lessons in it are relevant to many of us and go beyond just setting a fee.
The magician in question (I’ll keep this anonymous to protect the guilty) said
‘Despite the fact that I charge rock-bottom prices, I’m still finding it hard to get work and often people don’t reply to my proposals’.
The problem here, of course, is not despite charging rock-bottom fees, it’s probably because he charges rock-bottom fees that he’s getting no response and little work.
By under-valuing himself, he’s sending a message to his market – ‘I don’t value myself, and only compete on fees. Therefore, you shouldn’t value me either and either go for someone else who doesn’t value themselves but is cheaper, or find someone who does value themselves, meaning that they’ll probably do a good job.”
How often do we do this to ourselves – not just with fees, but with our time, our energy, our presence? How many presentations have you seen which begin something like “I’m sorry, I haven’t had time to make these slides look good?” Or meetings which start “Well, this might be a stupid idea, but …”
As soon as you visibly undervalue yourself you’re telling other people how they should react to you.
And most of the time, we want to work with people who value themselves, because it’s likely that they’ll also give us value.
In sales, pricing is the most obvious example of whether you value yourself, and truly believe that you’ll do a good job for the client.
Obviously, I’m not saying that you should randomly charge a huge fee – but I am saying that yuor fee should refelct the value you bring, and that you should be conscious of the message you’re sending with your fees. If the message is ‘Please buy my service because it’s so cheap’ it’s likely that you’ll be pushing people away. Even worse, the people who do employ you will nearly always be more demanding and difficult to work with. You’ll also find it harder to build up a recurring client base because people who buy on price are never loyal.
Beyond just pricing, think about other occasions when you could be sending a message that you don’t value yourself enough – when you begin a presentation or speak up in a meeting for example. Find those moments and change them. It’s not about being inauthentic or boasting, but it is about having a confident, clear, personal brand and signalling to your audience ‘This is worth listening to’.