How much do you believe you are worth to your clients? Are you worth more than a bunch of rhubarb?
This is a very important question, as there is a direct relationship between how much you think you are worth and how much your clients will be prepared to pay you to look after them. Hopefully you have not been paid in rhubarb, but unlikely as this may sound there is at least one adviser who has.
Unfortunately, many advisers in our profession still seem to believe they are worth nothing at all. They provide their services free of charge and then wonder why they are not making any money. When I first joined the profession I was taught “Look after the clients and the money will look after itself”. It is certainly very true we must look after our clients very well, but it is an illusion to believe we can give them all the help they need, not charge the right fees for this, and continue to run a profitable practice.
At one of my coaching days an adviser really demonstrated just how silly this is. He told us all he had recently met with a good client who had called him in for some advice. He and the client had a good discussion, at the end of which the client asked how much he owed for the advice. The adviser told him “nothing!”, to which the client replied, “I thought you were going to say that. You never charge me for the advice you give!”.
The client then led him into the kitchen and gave him a small parcel. In the parcel was some home grown rhubarb. The advice he had given was easily worth thousands to the client, but his payment was a bunch of rhubarb.
This is not because the client believed the advice was only worth a bunch of rhubarb. It was because the client saw the adviser was not going to accept any money but was embarrassed to let him go away without any payment at all. After this event the adviser realized how wrong his attitude had been. The advice he gave was certainly worth a lot more than the rhubarb he received, and he began to realize his clients would pay him what he was worth if only he asked them to do so.
During another coaching day an adviser told how he had arrived at a client meeting with a retainer standing order in his briefcase. The standing order was for £80 a month, which is as much as the adviser believed the client would be prepared to pay. At the end of the meeting the adviser mentioned his clients all paid him a regular standing order to retain his services. The client asked how much he would need to pay. Instead of saying “£80 a month” the adviser decided to ask the client how much he thought was reasonable. He probably did this out of nervousness that he might have pitched his fee too high, but it was very fortunate for him that he did so.
Without too much reflection, the client said he thought £250 a month would be fair. Needless to say, the adviser did not take the standing order out of his briefcase, but simply said he would bring one to the next meeting. The one he brought was for £250. More than three times what he had originally expected.
Later that day another client asked how much he needed to pay to retain this adviser. Without any hesitation the adviser told him his other clients paid £250 a month, and that client happily agreed to pay this. In just one day this adviser had obtained agreement to regular monthly earnings of £500 when he had originally expected only £160.
So, how much do you believe you are worth to your clients? Hopefully a lot more than a bunch of rhubarb! Take stock of the value you give and do not be afraid to charge the right retainer for the service you provide. What you may find, which is what the advisers in these stories and many other participants in my coaching days have found, is that your clients will be happy to pay a lot more than you initially believe possible.
One lesson to learn is that your clients probably value you more highly than you value yourself. Increase your own self-worth and you should find your clients will happily pay you a retainer of that value. Why happily? Well that is an entirely different subject for another time!
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