Understand your real value by asking customers 1 simple question

Do you know your real value?

For the longest time, I thought I knew. I thought my value was the final product I delivered to my client.

A blog post. A drip sequence of emails. A website with fresh copywriting.

The truth was much more than that. It took me more than two years to figure out my real value, and the whole time I was missing the mark when selling myself as a content and copywriting consultant.

If you don’t know your real value, don’t fret.

I’m about to show you a shortcut, in the form of 1 simple question, to get you the answer you need.

The 1 simple question to understand your true value

Here we go: [Customer/client], what problem did you have that convinced you to work with me, and what’s easier now that I’m helping you?

That’s it.

The more customers you can ask, the faster you’ll find the answer, and the more precise it’ll be.

And if you want a “shortcut” to getting this answer without feeling like you’re prying, frame it like asking for a testimonial.

Using your knowledge of this value is more complicated. Let’s dive in.

What’s value, after all?

Value is an objective measure of how much benefit a customer gains by working with you.

That’s it. Easy, right?

Sure, except for the fact that we need to get a layer deeper than dollars and deliverables.

Let’s say you have a SaaS business that charges $30/month. That’s less than your competitor, which costs $50/month. You might assume the value to each of your customers is $20 per month.

Wrong. (Hopefully.)

Because if they’re going to stick with your SaaS app, it’s because you’re doing something more than saving them money. Most people overlook costs if they get something else out of the arrangement.

Maybe it’s a prettier interface or smarter features they take advantage of every time they use the app. Whatever that might be, it’s bound to be worth more than $20 per month. Otherwise, people would hop on over to the next competitor, who’s selling the same thing for $20/month.

To say that your value is $20 per month is selling yourself way short. But if you don’t know your real value, you can’t use it to inspire more people to sign up.

Same goes for freelancers/consultants. Your value isn’t in the final product you deliver, whether that’s a blog post or rewritten copy.

If you’re good at what you do, your value is far more profound. It’s the deeper stuff that makes clients ask for your expertise again and again. You just need to figure out what it is.

Understanding my value

When I started as a freelancer three years ago, I thought my value was in the blog post or piece of copywriting I delivered.

That was how I presented myself to clients: Hire me, and you’ll get a piece of writing! How neat is that?

Because of that, most of the clients I landed were smaller businesses who needed someone for a quick, low-cost, and one-off job. I projected my value as small and defined, and so that’s what they expected.

And that’s how they paid me in turn.

It wasn’t pretty. There were a lot of long (night and weekend) hours for not a lot of money.

As I expanded my network of clients, got better clients, and built long-term relationships, I started to wonder: Do I offer them more than a deliverable?

I asked a lot of awkward questions. I tweaked the way I was asking people about the value they found in my work until I settled on that 1 simple question.

Most of my answers involved 1) saving the client’s time, and 2) helping grow the business in ways they hadn’t thought of or didn’t have the talent to pull off.

I started to re-frame the way I talked about what I do around these two value-oriented answers. In a matter of months I doubled my income.

I would have doubled it again in the following year, but paternity leave called my name.

"A picture of my daughter Mabel"

I don’t regret a second of that, though.

Oh, you want to double your income, too?

I can’t make any promises, but the concept is simple.

Once you understand your real value, you can sell yourself 100X better.

If you’re a business selling a SaaS/software product, you might be able to raise your prices.

If you’re a freelancer/consultant, you can probably charge more than you would billing by the hour.

Tell them a story about a future in which their life is better because they’ve started working with you.

It’s not just the thing they’re getting. It’s the many things that make their life better.