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.