What Are You Worth

Worst kept secret: I LOVE Moneyball. The book. Although watching Brad Pitt didn’t hurt my cause either.

It is hard to argue with what is written between the lines. Everything, comes down to a single number. In baseball, the story goes, that number is your on-base percentage. Doesn’t matter what else you’re doing. Did you get on base?  Wins, come from runs, and runs happen if you’re getting on base. Simple right? Now, what is that number for your business?

If you’re in the business of selling a tangible good, I would argue, the number is shipments. How much did you ship? (Not just sell, but ship to the customer. And there is a difference) Shipping would suggest you invoiced and got paid, it means you had products in your warehouse to fill a purchase order, and that your account would have had pull at the shelf and needed to restock.

When I build a strategy, I often spend some time identifying what my number is, before anything else. What would define success in my space? In a selling environment, for me the number is always units per store per week. I can tell a rep to make sure his region sells through $10,000 a month, or we break it down to an easy to track number. “Your goal is $10,000, you have 50 stores, so each store needs to bring in $200 a month, or $50 a week. Their cost of the product is $10 so each of your store needs to sell 5 units a week.” Much easier pill to swallow, isn’t it?

This concept applies to almost everything. Even your career. I call that your currency. Not what you charge your clients, not what your salary is, or even your net worth. Although those need to be addressed too.

What are you trading every day? What is in exchange, as specifically defined as possible? Have you thought about it? For a sales person, it might be a sales trend, or contribution to an organization’s bottom line. You’re in marketing? How about a track record of positive ROI, brand launches you’ve worked on, the portfolio you’ve managed over your career. Whatever it is that has made you unique – the winningest part of your professional past. Your professional worth. What does an employer HAVE to know about you. Why does anybody need to hire you.

Without being clear on that, it is impossible for you to effectively plan a career progression, a raise, your next move. If you haven’t really thought about it before, that’s ok! I hadn’t either.

When I first started my brokerage, I could not figure out what to charge people. Not because I hadn’t done my homework on what others in my field were billing, but because I couldn’t stand firmly on my professional currency. I had a small idea of what my work could do for others, but not really. And you know how I know this? The first person that received their quote from me signed on immediately. No questions asked. IT WAS A BARGAIN. He could see it, clear as day. Me – I was just hoping I’d get paid. The next guy, I raised a bit, but then somehow ended up taking a 20% haircut because they thought I was quoting them in Canadian dollars and I was too nervous to correct them to the USD. Again – people grab a good bargain when they see it.

Finally, I found my balls (and figured out my professional worth) with my third client. I remember sending a quote and having the CEO ask if we could discuss my fee. He went through line by line and finally he said “You mean to tell me you’re worth more on part time hours than someone else’s full time salary??” My palms were sweating. I could feel the blood rushing to my face. I found literally two seconds of courage and I replied “Yup!”. No explanation. He replied with “I think you are too”. From that moment on, I never settled for less than my quote.

There is a number, for everything. And your number is so closely tied with what you’re bringing to the table. Think about it. Define it meticulously. And trade it like Gold. Whether it is for your business, or at a job interview. Be clear. Ask for what you deserve. The worst thing anyone can say to you is no thank you. But if you’ve communicated your worth clearly, they will likely negotiate.

You are gold, baby! Don’t you forget it.

The One About The Shoe

Someone asked me last week how I ended up in sales. Honestly, I never intended to be a sales person. What I did always chase after though was career advancement, continuous education and improvement, and like many women, breaking the glass ceiling. That naturally put me on a long selling journey.

Fast forward to a decade later, and I’ve achieved more in sales than I ever did as a marketer, a field that I am to this day extremely passionate about. That’s what I went to school for. That’s what my skill set makes me great at. At least that’s what everyone used to tell me, because I’ve always been creative. “You’re a shoe, you’re a shoe, you’re a shoe!”

The truth is, until you force yourself out of your zone, you won’t really know. I’ve been fortunate enough (choosing that word carefully) to be pushed out of my zone a few times.

Once a few years ago, when in a desperate attempt to broaden my horizons, I landed a job as an alcohol sales rep. Had it not been for that experience, I would still be the most introverted person you have ever met. I would have been stuck behind a desk, barely speaking to clients on the phone, never travelling the World. But most importantly, I would have never fully stepped into my light, aware of what I am capable of and how much of a change maker I can become.

Then again, eight years ago, I agreed to run sales for a US brand attempting to launch in Canada. ALL of Canada. Plot twist: I’m scared of flying (or at least I was at that point). AND, my only sales experience had been the alcohol gig, for the cottage country in one territory. What do I know about the rest of Canada. Friends talked me through this. Selling is selling. Just go for it and see what happens. And I did. I flew in for an interview over dinner. I had to take drugs to get myself on the plane. When I landed, I had an hour or two to get myself ready -groggy and all. I was so nervous I spilled water all over my dress shirt.

It is scary. Trust me, I know. I used to call my bestfriend every morning during the alcohol gig and cry. I’m not ashamed of that. I was terrified. I don’t know if I can do this. What if they reject me. I know nothing about alcohol. (that part was a legitimate concern. Up until that point, my definition of alcohol was a fruity white zinfandel) The list of fears ran deep. Three months after that gig had started, my territory was one of the fastest growing in our region.

A year after that, not only had I helped launch a brand into Canada, and establish it as the fastest growing in the market within a matter of months, I was leading the global development of that business. If you had told me ten years ago that I’d get to be a VP by the time I was 30 and travel the world, I would have laughed. And laughed and laughed. Who are you talking to?? Me, fly for a living? NOPE!

It is incredible how we limit ourselves with our words, our thoughts, preconceived notions and extremely flawed understanding of our capabilities and limits, and how much we can achieve if we just tell the little negative voice in our heads to FRO.

Have you caught yourself doing that? In sales I was taught to address an objection with “What would happen if you did x”? It is highly effective, if you’re willing to listen and support. But it is even more effective when you use that same statement every time you put an obstacle in front of yourself. Every time you tell yourself no. Every time you think it cannot be done. What would happen if you did it anyway?

I beg of you. Cover your ears to block out the negative, open your eyes, and Leap. Out of your typecast. Out of your comfort zone. Out into the unknown. I promise you, there will be people ready to catch you if you fall.