Worth every penny? How to charge your true worth
Lawyers, like other professionals, are not always skilled at charging their worth. Vanessa Ugatti explains that if you charge your true worth, you’ll generate more income without having to get more clients, and be able to serve your clients better.
Do you underestimate and discount your fees for no reason, or even do work for free?
You may be doing all three, which means that you’re losing money hand over fist.
You’re probably also spending far too much time working to make up for the shortfall, so you’re overworked, stressed, tired and even resentful.
I know from working with experienced, talented, conscientious lawyers, just like you, that this is a commonplace problem and has nothing to do with your intellectual ability or professional competence.
You may think that logic drives you and your practice. In fact, self-worth, not logic, is at the heart of everything you do and drives your behaviour.
If you don’t feel 100% worthy (and lots of intelligent, capable professionals don’t), then you will find it impossible to charge effectively.
A few years ago, because of my own inability at the time to charge properly, I came up with a methodology I now call True Worth. It helps professionals charge appropriately for their work.
Three of the nine key principles are:
- take charge – if you don’t run your business, your clients will
- understand value – from feeling fearful about your fees to feeling fantastic about you
- optimistic mindset – mastering your mind means much more money
Here are five tips to help you begin to charge what you’re really worth.
1. Don’t be the person doing it cheaper
That’s it. Make that decision and stick with it.
If you do, you’ve successfully jumped over the first hurdle. Well done.
2. Look honestly at the value you bring
You have a significant amount of expertise in your field, and yet it’s not easy for you to understand your value.
The longer you’ve been practising, the easier it has become, so the more you take your expertise for granted. That’s just human nature.
Spend some quality time, preferably with someone who can help you, to really reflect and understand the true value you provide for your clients.
Make this a priority – if you don’t, you may well be losing out on revenue which is rightfully yours. You’ll need to review and reflect on this on a regular basis.
Don’t only focus on what you do for your clients – that’s the features of your service.
The benefits are what the features of your service mean to the client.
So, to turn a feature into a benefit, you can add the words “which means that…”.
For example, if you tell a client, “I can sort out your finances following your divorce for you”, that’s you describing a feature of your service.
If you then add, “…which means that you’ll have the money you need to maintain your lifestyle”, that’s the benefit loud and clear.
Then you can ask, “so what would that be worth to you?”.
If you don’t first demonstrate the value of what you do, the client will always regard the quote you give as high.
You have to get them to shift from looking at the price to seeing the value.
When they see the value, then your quote will seem more acceptable.
3. Make sure your clients will appreciate your value
Are the clients you’re working with in general the sort who will pay you on value, or are they looking for cheap and cheerful?
If it’s the latter, then clearly you’re working with the wrong clients.
Decide to only work with those who really appreciate your offering and are willing to pay accordingly.
This means that you must be willing to turn down potential clients who do not fit into this category.
4. Eliminate limiting beliefs
You’ll need focus, patience and determination to change your habits. And you’ll need to work on more than just marketing and what you do practically; you’ll need to work on yourself.
If you fail to do this, you’ll potentially limit your revenue and feel frustrated too.
What limiting beliefs are getting in the way of your success?
Limiting beliefs are what you say to yourself about yourself or about the prospect/client which stops you from taking the action most beneficial for you.
You can identify these by paying attention to your thoughts and how they make you feel.
If they don’t feel good, you can be pretty sure that you have a limiting belief.
Examples of limiting beliefs
- I can’t possibly charge that
- The client won’t pay that
- I’m not good enough
- I don’t feel confident
Write your own limiting beliefs down.
This is key. If you hesitate or feel nervous when discussing fees, unfortunately that will come across to the client.
5. Get help!
You can’t do this alone. Be willing to invest in yourself and your firm. Find the right people to support you on your journey.
And remember, asking for help is a strength and not a weakness.
To receive a copy of Vanessa’s 10-point checklist for getting paid your true worth, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Views expressed in our blogs are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Law Society.