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Unseen Value

Updated: Jun 9

Glacier Bay, Alaska; unseen value

A couple of years ago, my wife and I were in Glacier Bay, Alaska (where this photo was taken). The beauty and enormity of what you see when you're there is something photos can never fully capture.


As with all glaciers, though, what can be seen at the surface is not even close to the entirety of its magnitude. The glaciers in Glacier Bay run anywhere from 100 to 200 feet below the surface of the water.


The foundation of what’s below the surface supports the beauty of what's above the surface.

 

Foundational Value Below the Surface


One of the most common problems I've observed among solo and small professional service providers regarding value and pricing is the misunderstanding and underestimation of their impact on clients that goes beyond the service itself.


All service providers worry about the technical details of the consulting project, the strategic plan, the business analysis, the website and SEO, or the marketing campaign. Sometimes they worry about those details to the exclusion of the intangible value they are generating—or could generate but don’t—that is less apparent.


Intangible value is deeply woven into how clients view you, your approach, and the unique aspects of your service delivery that go beyond mere features and benefits.


It’s deeply fundamental to how clients view you and your firm. There are exceptions, of course, but when asked about you by others, the first thing clients remember and express are the intangibles.


Examples of Unseen Value


Here are a few examples of such "unseen" value:


Being Accessible, Even in Tough Times: A financial advisor who proactively reaches out to reassure and guide their clients when the financial markets are at their worst. 


Showing Up When Others Don’t: I once had a friend who lived in the Sunbelt who had an important client in the Upper Midwest. He insisted on traveling to visit that client every year in January. The reason, he told me, was that his competitors avoided making trips there at that time of year. That practice alone illustrated to his client that his comfort was less of a priority than maintenance of the relationship.


Simplifying Language in Communication: An IT expert who avoids complex jargon to make technology accessible provides incredible value by making clients feel understood. Clients love service providers who empower them to ask "dumb questions" and know they won't get an eyeroll in return.


Adaptive Communication: A website designer who would rather text and email, but who has a client who prefers phone calls, and adjusts their communication to that client accordingly.


Making Connections: A CPA who isn’t afraid to introduce external specialists to better address specific issues demonstrates a commitment to the client’s best interests over protecting their own ego.


Personal Engagement: Years ago, after I lost my first wife to cancer, I was deeply moved by those who took the time to ask, "How are you REALLY doing?" and listened without trying to fix or prescribe. Such genuine engagement is remembered years after the fact.


Admitting Uncertainty: No one likes a know it all. An attorney who admits they don’t have all the answers but is committed to finding them builds trust, respect, and loyalty.


Prioritizing Client Needs: A marketer who advises against a marketing strategy they would benefit from personally acts in the true interest of the client, even at a cost to themselves. Clients remember when you offer guidance that doesn't ring your own cash register.


You Won't Know If You Don't Ask


Each client is different. The mix of intangible value they see in you varies not just by client, but even with each individual as circumstances change.


Ask your clients what they value most in working with you. Most, if not all, will give you answers that feature intangibles. Additionally, when they refer you, ask the person they referred what your client said about you.


Remember that their answers will change over time. Don’t hesitate to continue those check-ins. You will be pleasantly surprised by what you hear.


What you learn will help you deliver more value to all your clients and, in turn, enable you to better price your services to reflect the value you deliver.


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Are you frustrated by your pricing? Need help articulating your value? Do you need a better way to identify and close your best-fit clients? Do you want to restore the joy you used to have for your business? I may be able to help you.


I’m John Ray, a business consultant and coach, author, and podcaster. John Ray advises solopreneurs and small professional services firms on their two most frustrating problems: pricing and business development. I’m passionate about how changes in mindset, positioning, and pricing change the trajectory of a business and the lifestyle choices of a business owner. My clients are professionals who are selling their expertise, such as consultants, coaches, attorneys, CPAs, accountants and bookkeepers, marketing professionals, and other professional services practitioners. Click here to learn more or contact me directly.

The Generosity Mindset, by John Ray

I’m the author of the national bestselling book, The Generosity Mindset: A Journey to Business Success by Raising Your Confidence, Value, and Prices. The book covers topics like value and adopting a mindset of value, pricing your services more effectively, proposals, and essential elements of growing your business. The book is available at all major physical and online book retailers.


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