In sports, there’s a difference between the value of winning and the meaning of winning. The value of winning includes trophies, contracts, bragging rights, etc. The meaning of winning is rooted in the obstacles overcome on the path to victory. We can quantify the value of a win, but not the meaning. This metaphor goes way beyond sports.
When our clients are trying to reach an objective, we should look for its value AND its meaning. It will be on a scale from easily identified and cheap to completely rare and priceless, with every in-between point covered too. Some goals are two related things at once, others contradictory. It’s normal to have different goals in each category.
Maybe most importantly is realizing its not exclusively “price is what you pay and value is what you get.” It’s also “what and how” versus “why.” We have complex professions. If we’re not just stamping out a simple widget with a fixed cost and sale price, we’ve got more to consider. If we’re going to understand the value we create and the prices we charge, it starts with knowing what our clients are really thinking and looking for.
There’s so much to listen for, and there’s so much they’re telling us when we actually hear them. Map all of the goals out. Look for the unspoken ones. Then, focus on the value and meaning of each. When we put the big picture together from the bottom up, we capture these details.
When they see it, they’ll know we heard them. When we see it, we’ll also know if our value proposition is in alignment. If we’re not (ex. They want something we can’t or won’t deliver), we can bow out. It starts with hearing the value and meaning our clients want. It continues with us helping them get there, one step at a time.