Can you show your value at work? What value do you add to your company? How do you either bring in income or generate savings? Are these numbers bigger than the salary they pay you?
I ask these questions often and get a variety of reactions.
Some claim they do not need to know this; they are employees and not contractors or consultants.
Others tell me they cannot measure their role since they have no direct impact on the bottom line.
Yet, I find many CEOs who can tell me to the penny the economic impact of every employee. Are their numbers correct? Who knows? But, the key is that someone is MEASURING YOUR IMPACT. Let’s face it, we (as customers ourselves) often fire vendors and service providers when we feel they fail to add value to our lives. Why do you think YOUR customer would be any different?
Five Steps to Show Your Value
First, know YOUR customer
No, I do not mean your companies customers – but the one who is measuring YOU. It does not matter if you are an entrepreneur, contractor, consultant, or employee – the same basic principles apply. Someone, the one who gives you cash in return for goods and services, is your customer. You may call them your customer, boss, manager, company, or various other expressions. In some cases, such as the entrepreneur or consultant, you might have multiple customers you must treat as a group.
But a key step to keeping the money rolling in is to get inside the head of your customers – and you cannot do that until you know who they are. In larger organizations, this can be a challenge since you might play a variety of roles and have a line of management ahead of you. But, the clearer you understand your role, the easier you can show value added. You must know who is looking at you and the value you add to the company.
Second, find out what matters to your customer(s)
How? Go ask them. To really get under the surface of the many statistical measurements that may or may not really matter – go ask them some key questions.
– What are the key things you expect from me?
– What struggles are you having related to your job or YOUR customers?
– What keeps you awake at night?
– How do you measure value?
– What value do I bring to you? (Try to get to dollars if possible.)
Be aware, some customers may be taken aback by these questions, especially if your customer happens to be a middle line manager. They may not know themselves what matters and what is value added – which is a real problem for you. They may not even know what matters to their own boss (customer) and therefore your whole department could be in jeopardy. So if you do not get good answers, keep looking for new ways to ask. You may have to talk to the bigger bosses (customers) to see if you can understand how you and your group add value to the company.
A word of caution is due here.
Many people tell me they already know what their customer wants – they do not need to ask. Perhaps, but I am guessing this is a dangerous assumption. Marketing groups spend billions trying to learn what customers value – and they also know it can change over time. These groups continually ask questions to make sure they are in line with customer demands. Why do we think we are any different?
In a past work life, I spent much of my time tracking data on various measures of network performance thinking I was doing what mattered. In fact, I knew I was. It was my job. Yet, the boss never seemed happy with the numbers. When I finally asked what really mattered, I found out he was being hammered from above by customer outage issues. All of our measures were important, but the numbers did not have a predictable relationship to customer service.
Third, align your efforts with their needs
Now that you know what matters look and see how well you are meeting the demands. What are you doing every day and does it add value to what your customer cares about? When I found out my boss cared about real customer service over managing the numbers, I went after the companies customers to make sure they knew we cared and intended to fix their problems quickly. My life with my boss improved, and as it turns out, I was now adding real value.
Fourth, find your number
Yes, back to that “How much value do you bring?” question. Can you put some numbers on how much you make/save the company? I know, for some of you this can be challenging.
Trust me – you need a number. After all, what if your customer does not have a number to measure your value? What if you are working in a support role? If your customer does not have a number, you can share yours with them. (Of course, only do this if the value you bring is more than the money they spend on your services!)
The funny thing is data talks – even if it is not perfect. Your customer can challenge your assumptions and you might learn how to improve your model of how you get your number. But the key is you now have a number. If your number does turn out to be lower than your cost, start looking for ways to add more value or start looking for another customer!
To learn how to find your number, check out this post on How to Find Your Number.
Fifth, do little things that keep selling your value.
We call it buyers remorse. You buy that new car and once you get home you start thinking you really should have spent less money. Then the dealer calls you to remind you of how highly rated and safe your car is (remind you of the value of the car) and you feel better.
Do this for your customers. Remind them often of the value you bring. How you do this can vary, but do it! Buying your services is an expensive proposition, and you had better believe that someone in your line of customers asks the question often “do we really need that person or that division?” Buyers remorse is a human emotion related to spending money – and not just on cars.
Also, think about ways you can easily add extra value. Do you have data that can be used to provide valuable information? Can you provide a report for your boss to provide to his or her boss? In your interactions with customers can you provide sales opportunities? Think about Amazons “New for You” service. They know what you have bought in the past and tell you what is similar that might interest you. They save you time and keep you up to date. They already have this data and are providing you extra service with little effort on their part. And oddly enough, the value they add to you often brings value back to them! Your value adds to your customer may do the same.
Remember, we are all in the business of marketing our services to our customers. It is critical we know who our customer is and what matters to them. When we have delivered the goods, we need to remind them of the value we have added. Tell your customer(s) how you are solving their problems and adding value.