This article was originally published by Forbes.
There’s a lot of great content about how to research your market value and understand your worth, but just having the data isn’t enough. You have to believe you’re worth it.
I once worked with a job applicant who – through glorious insider intel – knew that her prospective employer had budgeted $90,000-$100,000 in salary for the role. But, when I asked my client about her salary requirements, she told me she was only going to ask for $80,000.
Despite knowing she had been underpaid in her last position and that this role would be a significant increase in responsibility, she was anchored by what she had been making previously.
We spent significant time together talking through her thinking and working to overcome the self-doubt that told her she didn’t really deserve her new company’s salary range. This situation isn’t unique to my client.
Many of us struggle with feelings of self-worth, asking ourselves, “Do I really deserve what I’m asking for?” Personally, it took me years to get comfortable naming my speaker fee without immediately discounting it.
Here are three key tools to get comfortable with naming your value:
1. Ask for help.
A few years ago, I significantly increased my fee based on client feedback and an assessment of other speakers at my level. Prior to making the change, I called a former client who I’d become close to and asked, “You really believe I’m worth this, right?” She’d already encouraged me to increase my fee, but I needed that additional nudge of support to make the move.
You can explicitly ask for that sort of feedback from a trusted client you’re close with or another confidante or mentor in your industry who you feel like has objectivity. It felt a bit vulnerable at first for me, but I’m so glad I asked.
If things go well, they’ll both affirm your research into your market value and provide validation that you’re worth it. If you get feedback that you’re priced too high, consider the source. Sometimes feedback has far more to do with the person giving it and their own insecurities.
You could also consider talking to a coach or a therapist to work through some of the hesitation you’re feeling. Personally, my coach has been integral to the process of raising my rates.
I’ve built a rough script for myself that I follow on all business development calls. It helps me stay on track and ask questions first so that by the time we’re talking price, I understand the needs and recognize my ability to meet them.
Saying the number or making your pitch out loud in a low stakes setting is an important step in the process. As I’ve noted before, if the first time you say the words out loud is in a high stakes setting, it comes with a high risk of word vomit. While it can feel comically awkward at first, practicing with a trusted friend is among the best ways to determine what language feels comfortable and makes the strongest case.
Honestly, I still feel nervous sometimes, but as my coach Rebecca Aced-Molina tells me, “You can feel this way and still trust yourself.” Practicing saying the words aloud helps me move through those moments of discomfort.
3. Trust market value.
Recognize that market value isn’t what *you* would pay you. It’s the “going rate” for the service or product you provide.
I once heard a story about a woman who sold $16 candles (or soaps, or something like that). As she was working with her business coach to increase her rates and profitability, she exclaimed that she would never pay $16 for a candle/soap. She thought it was ridiculous.
Her business coach reminded her that she wasn’t her target client. In reality, there were plenty of people out there willing to drop 16 bucks for a candle/soap. Those were the people who comprised her client base, and they should determine her market value.
Similarly, after I named my rate to a client a while back, she told me “Yeah, I don’t think that’s outrageous.” I had to laugh to myself afterward because I realized that there was a part of me that connected with the candle/soap lady – I still thought my rate was a little outrageous. I wasn’t sure whether I’d pay me that much.
But, I trusted market value and my clients’ feedback.
With my coach and friends and clients’ support over the last several years, I’ve tripled my rates. With my support, the job applicant who was planning to ask for $80,000 ultimately accepted the new position at $90,000 with a $5,000 signing bonus and other massive bonuses throughout the year.
These strategies work.