Don’t Sell Yourself Short

Hi Everyone, I hope this finds you well. Yet again I apologise for being scarce lately but I’ve been traversing the country doing my best to inspire and amuse the multitudes. Today I thought I’d share a chapter from my soon-to-be-published book (with thanks to Penguin Publishing). For some of you it might seem strangely familiar as I’ve shared some of the stories and messages before (on this site) but nonetheless, it’s still a relevant and empowering lesson. I’ll be back on deck next week. :)  

Being a professional speaker is something of a strange job. By most people’s standards, anyway. Some months I make pretty good money and some months, not so much. There’s no holiday pay or sick pay, no set hours and no financial guarantees of any kind. There are also lots of planes, cabs, hotels, airport lounges, delays and waiting around. There are certain times on the corporate calendar when I’m more likely to be busy (this month, for example) and other times when I seem to be watching way too much UFC and having way too many coffees with friends (last month).

At the moment, I am represented by ten different speaking agencies and I regularly fly interstate to do just one hour of ‘work’. Most weeks, in fact. Which is why my parents are still waiting for me to get a real job. There have even been times when I’ve flown to another country to deliver a single presentation. Not long ago, I flew to Fiji and back in twenty-four hours. I spoke at a conference for forty-five minutes.

Like I said; strange job.

Buying You

As a speaker, I understand that people are essentially ‘buying’ me. Specifically, my time, knowledge, skills,  experience and my brand – whatever they perceive that to be. Which can all be a little daunting if you don’t have a healthy self-esteem and complete confidence in your ability to deliver what people are expecting and paying for. In many ways, I’m a product; something that people will put a price or value on.

On some level, so are you.

Value

At a certain price, some companies will consider me to be a ‘good investment’ of their money and their team’s time. Add twenty percent to my price and they might consider me to be a bad investment. Take ten percent off my price and they might consider me a bargain. Take fifty percent off and they might believe that something is wrong with the product; fickle creatures, consumers. When it comes to the matter of good or bad value (what people will pay vs. what they get), it largely comes down to their belief and perception.

For example, why would somebody pay five hundred dollars to do a one-hour workout with a personal trainer (happens more often than you might think) when they could get the same workout (and therefore, the same physical benefit), in the same gym on the same equipment with another trainer for less than a hundred bucks? Because somewhere in that reasoning centre between their ears is a belief that says “yep, this is a good way for me to spend five hundred bucks.” And for that consumer, in that moment, that’s all that matters.

Value is largely about perception and belief. And quite often, logic doesn’t come into it.

If people believe something is worth ‘X’ and they want it enough, they will gladly hand over the cash. No matter how irrational that choice might seem to others. Somehow, the trainer in the above example has created a perception and an expectation of quality, excellence and value. Even at five hundred dollars per hour.

Why else would people pay so much?

Belief

If you have the best product or service in the market place but people (1) have never heard of it (2) don’t know how good it is or (3) don’t believe in it, you’re going out of business fast. Yep, what makes people hand over their money is not so much the products and services themselves but rather, the consumer’s personal belief in those things. For example, one of my friends uses a moisturising cream that costs her more than two hundred dollars per bottle. I think she’s being totally scammed. She thinks I’m an ignorant male.

See; personal belief.

Of course, it ain’t about the product. It’s about the individual (her, me) and our unique perception of value. It’s fair to say that she believes in the product. She’s like a skin-care evangelist. On the other hand, my moisturiser costs ten bucks and sometimes, I buy it in a one-litre dispenser. It’s a man thing. Or, maybe it’s a Craig thing? Nonetheless, we have different beliefs about skin care and what constitutes an intelligent purchase. Her expensive product may well be twenty times superior to mine but (1) I don’t know that (2) I don’t believe that and therefore (3) I ain’t buying it.

Belief.

Money in Mowing

I have another friend who operates a lawn-mowing business and charges about double what most people in his industry charge. Despite his steep fees, he has a waiting list and is always in demand. Why? Because he’s built an amazing brand for himself. People believe he’s the best and therefore, they’ll happily pay. He’s reliable, ultra-professional, clean, efficient, polite and has great people skills. I know some of his customers and they all love him. In reality, his grass-cutting skills are almost irrelevant. If you think people choose a lawn guy just because he has a mower and a business card, you don’t understand how or why the majority of people spend money.

Woof, Woof

Yet another one of my (wealthy but slightly irrational) friends pays more than a thousand dollars a week for a woman to stay in her house and look after her dogs when she’s away on holiday. The woman’s ‘job’ is to walk the dogs twice a day and feed them once. Despite the fact that there are much cheaper dog-minders around, my friend considers this to be a very worthwhile investment because this particular woman is ‘incredible with dogs’. Apparently.

Good grief, for that kind of money, I’d want her to be magic.

Which brings us to you:

  • What are you selling?
  • What is your core product or service?
  • Do people know about it? You?
  • Why would somebody buy what you’re selling?
  • What separates you in the market place?
  • Why would somebody recommend you?
  • How do people perceive your products, services, skills?
  • What is their impression of you?

The above questions are relevant for everyone from the guy with the fledgling home-handyman business and the girl trying to break into the entertainment industry to the world-renowned architect and the fashion designer who charges (and gets) twenty thousand dollars for a single dress. Yep, we’re all selling something. Once upon a time, being good at what we did was enough to ensure a thriving career and/or business.

Those days are gone.

When it comes to the matter of professional success, sometimes, what we’re selling is not nearly as important as what people believe they’re getting.

If you liked this article, subscribe to my blog and receive my FREE eBook. Click here: I want a FREE eBook. If you’re interested in having me work with your organisation you can contact me here.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Melanie February 28, 2013 at 9:37 pm

Once again Mr Harper your timing is amazing! Being in the fitness industry for some dumb arse reason I always under value ‘me’. I find it extremely difficult to sell what I truly believe in. I’m passionate, empathetic, professional, community orientated and knowledgable – but constantly find myself undervaluing my time. Better work on that I suppose before I end up in a Centre Link queue :-( But thank you Craig I really enjoy reading your articles!

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Kelly Hanna March 1, 2013 at 1:16 am

Indeed Craig…when it comes to marketing/branding/a persons personal beliefs on “selling” it boils down to one very simple dynamic..
People won’t buy what you do…they buy WHY you do.

Love ya!! Keep doing what you’re doing…Namaste’ from Sunny South Florida!!

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Sulagna - Love in India March 1, 2013 at 1:19 am

Absolutely amazing and mind-blowing.
I don’t know how to break this to you but – this is like the old Craig after a long long time. ;)
So now we know – we have to pay for the awesomeness as it has made the transition from the freely readable blog to a – ahem ahem – book.
:) :)

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Evan March 1, 2013 at 9:59 am

I don’t think you can have too many coffees with friends. Well, maybe you can – too much coffee means poor sleep (for me anyway).

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Evan March 1, 2013 at 10:02 am

I think you are right that it is more about belief now. I do find this a bit depressing.

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Trolley Wife March 1, 2013 at 11:17 am

Great stuff and very true. I do not find it depressing, rather informative. What people believe is often “WRONG” when it comes to clever marketing of a business service or product. The $200.00 cream is more is likely crap than fabulous give the relatively small number of ingredients really proven to be effective on skin – and Myers or D.J don’t have it.

The expensive personal trainer might have it, but clearly only the wealthy will be able to afford them. .

The lawn mower guy – this is an example of not just what people believe, but what they value. I value a great end result, so if a grubby old disheveled dude did a great a job for half the price of the guy looking neat and professional – i’d pick Mr grubby. It was lawn I want looking good for a good price,

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Jordo March 1, 2013 at 5:04 pm

You use moisturising cream Harps? OMG!

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