Align: Add Value By Raising Your Standards

Add genuine professional value to your services and products by raising your standardsyour measure of quality and excellence—to align with and exceed those of prospects, clients, and competitors.

When the goal is to add value for prospects or clients, too often the communication go-tos are digital marketing and hyped-up technology.

If flash and hype are what your clients value, what solves their problems, and what they’ll spend more on, go for it.

[ What’s Your Point? Book Excerpt: Chapter 10.1 Raising My Standards (2022). © 2021 PJ Wade, TheCatalyst.com ]

Most prospects and clients want to see themselves in your services and products. That’s how they perceive value.

Pay attention to how target prospects and clients express their beliefs on quality and professionalism.

Select standards and a work ethic that reflect and exceed target expectations.

A good measure of your success with this? How you behave—your professional standards—when you believe no one is watching or would find out.

Unless your standards are crystal clear to you, how can you meet and exceed them?

It’s not how you feel about your standards. It’s whether they align with and exceed target prospect and client standards and expectations.

How would you characterize the standards of quality and excellence by which you work and live? The standards that define your brand?
Are they average?
Above average?
High?
Exemplary?
Top of the field?

Who set your standards? Did you design them to meet the expectations of your selected target market? Your standards evolve from your upbringing, education, and personal life? Your profession’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Business Practice (however they’re named) are incorporated in your professional or business standards. Your personal standards for working with and for others must be what is most valuable to prospects and clients.

The key issue is who do your levels of quality or excellence revolve around, empathize with, and focus on. You? Your target prospects and clients?

  • The professional standards you adopt to deliver services, products, and advice should meet and exceed target needs and expectations. Their standards should be reflected in your service and product provision.
  • Your application of industry standards should be well-above average.
  • Your personal standards, which evolve over your life, speak to what matters to you. For target prospects and clients to value and respect you—and you them—their standards must align with yours, and vice versa.

You can tell people your standards are high, but do your actions consistently prove this? However you label your standards, it’s the quality category targets place your standards in that matters. Do you know when prospects and clients feel your standards and, therefore, your brand need improvement?

  • Ask most professionals and business owners about their business standards and they’ll tell you their standards are high, very high. I know because I’ve interviewed hundreds and hundreds of professionals, entrepreneurs, executives, business owners, and advisors. No one identified their standards as less than “high.”
  • Ask clients with first-hand experience of your products and services what could be improved and they’ll have a lot of suggestions. Clients always insist they’d share these ideas with the professionals if they asked. I’ve interviewed hundreds and hundreds of your clients and asked them what could be done to improve the services and returns they receive. They have willingly told me about you.

The challenge lies in recognizing exactly how your standards and, therefore, your brand evolves—what you are doing, not doing…. That’s the invisibility of the box. Unless you regularly hire the right professionals to critique all aspects of your business communication, you have decided—consciously or unconsciously—to take on this evaluation yourself. Is that a wise decision?

Which standards of respect for others do you commit to?

  • Are you receptive and respectful when a prospect or client makes a suggestion to you? Or, do you, consciously or unconsciously, shift to a defensive “don’t tell me how to do my job” stance or persist with an “it’s all about me” attitude?
  • Many prospects and clients will deliberately test professionals to see how responsive and respectful they are. If they appear cold or patronizing, clients back off and may not bother sharing insight, returning, or referring. Then, both clients and professionals are losers.
  • Raising your level of excellence is essentially competing with yourself since you know you can always improve. However, if ego gets in the way and you feel you’ve already beaten the competition, complacency may override constructive curiosity and your standards may suffer as well as your clients and business.

A small thing to you, can be a symptom of a below-standard attitude to others. You may be unaware of this, but it is probably evident to prospects, clients, and competitors:

  • If you don’t listen to a client, why should they listen to you? Even if they stay with you, will they follow your suggestions, give you all their business, or refer you?
  • If you don’t respect a client’s opinion, why should they respect yours? Clients who don’t believe that their hired professionals also respect them, may not be as open about their concerns, the extent of their needs, and their commitment to you.
  • If service, advice, and product standards are based on you at your best, what happens when stress, illness, family issues, or time pressures interfere and you are not at your best?
  • If you are not from the same generation as your target market, ageism or prejudice against or toward age, may be a disrupting factor. The “too young to know” and “too old to know” cross-generation reactions associated with ageism can accentuate differences of opinion and value systems. These reactions may be compounded by cultural differences and language challenges:
    • Not listening to an idea may be an ageist brush-off or may be perceived as such even if it is not.
    • Offering suggestions may be ageist criticism or may be perceived as such.

Mediocrity creeps in through insecurity, sloppiness, poor time management, bad habits, sensitivity to criticism, inflated ego, stress, weak powers of observation, and in too many other ways.

Without constructive persistence guiding you toward the best path forward, you will always slip back into old habits and follow established ruts or ingrained patterns of behavior. That is, you may slide backwards or go nowhere in spite of good intentions unless you continually and deliberately renew your determination to move forward and raise your standards.

How do I know my standards of quality and excellence are aligned with and exceed those of my chosen target markets?

For more on improving professional value: Disruption: Get Out of Your Own Way!

© Copyright 2021. PJ Wade, TheCatalyst.com. All rights reserved.

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