The Science of Undervaluing Yourself (And How To Overcome It)

by Sean D'Souza

The Science of Undervaluing Yourself (And How To Overcome It)

Do we charge less?

Do we value ourselves less than we should?

Do you think that sometime in the future, there will be this perfect product at the perfect price, and the perfect client will come along?

I used to have a client who had exacttttttly the same problem

And I can categorically tell you that everyone without exception has the same problem. Some have it almost perpetually. Some less so. But everyone has it. When we started out I’d do consulting. I’d spend hours with someone, even give a money back guarantee (some one actually took their money back after 8 hours of consulting). And even our products/courses were terribly under-priced.

I actually had a client say to me: You should charge more!

And I was terrified of increasing the prices

Who would pay that much? And yet, I went from $1,500 to $3000, $3000 to $6000. $6000 to $10,000. And there were still takers. Our consulting went from $75 to $550 or thereabouts (per hour). Still takers. You may say: People know you, Sean. You already have a reputation.

But you’d be beating around the bush. I could still be charging —or rather undercharging.

Remember that client I was talking about before—the one who undervalues himself?

He’s well known now, after a rather torrid start for about 10-12 years. Even today he’s increased his income and prices only marginally.He gets clients that can’t pay. He still discounts. He still keeps his fees as low as possible. He believes that clients can’t pay. And he’s right.

I know this because of one of my earliest clients. She was huffing and puffing to pay my 10-part, low fee. Then one day she missed a consulting class. Why? Because she had to buy a car: Only $30,000.

I’ve had clients who’ve not had $250 to spend, then gone on vacation and blown up $2500

I’ve had clients who’ve said that have gone and signed up for some sort of pie in the sky for $12,000. I know that kind of person. I was that kind of person. When I was starting up in marketing, I blew up $12-14k on a single workshop when that constituted about a fourth of my annual income.

So what am I saying here?

It’s all in your ear

There’s someone sitting on your shoulder and screaming in your ear.

They’re screaming stupid things. And you should not be listening.

But what if that screamer was right? What if indeed you couldn’t raise your prices?

Well that’s an easy answer

Start up something that doesn’t exist.

In 2006, we started up the Protégé. It didn’t exist.

We put a price of $6500 on it. Wrote a sales letter. And waited. Well no we didn’t wait. We tried to sell the heck out of it, and yet it wasn’t something we were depending on. You see it was a fictional kind of thing. In our minds it could work. Or not. If it didn’t, we’d get a whole bunch of copy writing practice and we’d get at least some folks who’d be keen to join something else in future (think of it as an advertisement for the future).

We surprised ourselves

The Protégé program was oversubscribed in 2006, 2007, 2008. We didn’t do any in 2009/10/11. But think about it. It started off as a dream that could fail. That if it failed it wouldn’t matter. And yet it succeeded. So well in fact that I had to stop it, just that I had to step back just so I could do other stuff.

The point is we’re all good at stuff

We just don’t have the confidence.

Give us someone who’s willing to listen and we’re good at stuff.

But we’re scared of pricing. We’re terrified of being turned down. Of failing. So scared that we won’t even dare to entertain the idea, let alone start up. But there’s a way around it.

Start up a fictional project/product/service

One which you don’t care if it fails or succeeds. Put a price on it. A price that you think is at least 50%-100% more than you currently think it’s worth. And if it succeeds, you’ll prove it to yourself. If it fails, it doesn’t mean it’s failed. It just means it’s failed “this year”. Or this “quarter”.

Again, how do I know this?

In 2011, the Article Writing Course sold out in 24 hours. Two batches. Plus a ton of home study courses. Consider that the Article Writing Course is priced well over $2000 and you see the problem. Why would anyone pay $2000 to learn to write articles? That was the question swirling in my mind back in the year 2006.

We were so reticent about the course that we didn’t offer it to the public until 2007 or thereabouts. In 2007, I put it out there just as a lark. And we were still reticent. It was the cheapest of our courses. And guess what? Fast forward to 2013 and it’s got a five month waiting list. Next year it may have a seven month waiting list—at a higher price.

So where’s the problem?

The problem is in your brain.

My brain. Our brains.

We undervalue ourselves.

And we keep at it. And believe me, now matter how big your reputation grows. No matter how much money you make, you’ll still be undervaluing yourself.

And in case you’re wondering, this isn’t about just charging insane sums of money

I’m now comfortable doing that, we know we have great products and services. For instance we know that our courses are the toughest in the world. There’s simply no trainer that structures a course like ours, because our courses are based on consumption—not conversion. This means that when you sign up, you’re there to succeed, not to fail.

And it’s not boot camp, but heck it’s tough. And it’s not just tough for you, it’s bloody tough for me as well. I’m there in the trenches with you. As an example the Article Writing Course started in early Feb. In less than a week, the group of 35 people had generated over 2000 posts. I wrote almost 550 of those posts. Think about it. Does any trainer do that? 550 posts a week? That’s madness.

No it’s not

It’s what you would do for your clients.

It’s what you could do for them.

But you can’t work for peanuts.

Those peanuts have to come out of your brain and need to be fed to that monkey who’s been sitting on your shoulder—and shouting at you.

Your prices, your lack of value—it’s all in your brain

You’re believing that monkey.

It’s time to step out. And change your prices. If not change your prices, create a fictional product/service. Something you’re sure no one will buy. And put in fictional prices that are reasonably higher than you have right now.

And be shocked when someone does buy

Even if one person buys. Even if you get one question asking you for more details, you know you’ve hit pay dirt.

The lack of value is in your brain.

Tell that monkey to be quiet.

It’s time to revalue yourself. And revalue your future.

Because if you don’t do it, no one will.


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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mario Awad June 20, 2013 at 1:25 am

Thank you for the excellent tips.

One should use discretion however and no rip-off their clients. As long as you’re providing value to them and that this value will give them more than what they’ve invested with you, I’m sure people will keep on buying your service no matter the price.

Small typo here: “now matter how big”.

Cheers!

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