One of the most satisfying things anyone can experience is the sense of being valued by other people – whether in a personal capacity or in business.
We all love to be loved, but in business the value to us is more tangible. Put simply, the expert makes more money from his or her specialism than the generalist can by selling his or her time – even if their quality of work is much the same.
So, when a customer contacts you, as the expert, they expect to pay at least a little more for your expertise, not least because they feel they can trust you to do a good, professional job. There’s no wondering if Mr or Ms Generalist will know how to do it. Take away the worry and you’ve solved the biggest part of their problem – and that has real value.
Plus, once people know you’re the expert they do come to you – you don’t have to chase them. You become the ‘go to’ person for that kind of work.
Behave in a professional way and do a good job and that expertise will be genuine and it will become genuinely valuable, both to you and your customers. They’ll tell their friends and they’ll come back to you next time as well.
There are various ways to help establish your expert status. One is to simply specialise. Even if you have multiple skills and talents, keep them separate and distinct to avoid the ‘Jack of all trades’ label. Another way is to tell people how experienced and expert you are, while a third, and even better way is to have your happy customers and clients tell people the same thing.
Work on getting testimonials and referrals as much as you can. Lots of us (me included) don’t find this easy to do. But all you have to do is ask, and it will pay off – not always, perhaps, but often enough to get you much more business than if you don’t ask at all. When you finish a job, ask your cutomer if they’re happy and if they’re prepared to put that in writing. Better yet, do they know anyone else who could use your services?
The answer will often be “Not at the moment”, but you will have put the thought into their heads. Make sure they have your contact details as well and, in time, more work will come your way.
Of course, the key thing about making your expert status work for you is not just that you’ll have more work but that that work will be at a higher price than it was before.
I charge about three times what some others will charge. It’s possible I could get more work if I charged less, but I might not get three times as much. In fact, I very much doubt it, given that I’d be surrendering my expert ‘go to’ status. And even if I did, how would that be better?
I enjoy my work, mostly, but I enjoy what it brings me, too. Including the fact that my time is mine (work and leisure), to do with as I please. It’s not a bad life and it’s one you can have, too.