Recently a company president asked me an interesting question. The question usually is “Why should I hire you to work with my company?” This president’s question was different, but very effective: ”What value will you bring to my company?”
The question he used illustrates the importance leaders should place on “value.” We can use the value-add concept (the question “What value do you add?”) in three ways.
First Way–Individual We look closely at ourselves as individuals, and as leaders of our businesses, our teams. When we’re trying to sell ourselves or justify our existence, whether in our current job or when we’re looking for jobs, we must be able to concisely, forcefully, and clearly articulate that value.
We discover our value by being specific, as opposed to speaking in generalities. What value do I as an individual bring to an endeavor? It’s not enough to say, “I’m hard-working,” or “I’m honest.” We need to translate these or other qualities into specific results that truly add value:
- I’ve increased sales by 50%.
- I’ve secured two new funding sources.
- I’ve expanded into three new geographic markets.
Other, Non-Work Related Applications Still looking at this from an individual perspective, you can also ask, what would happen if I didn’t exist, if I weren’t running this business, or this team, or if I weren’t a member of this team? If the answer is nothing, then you’re not adding value.
If I’m easily replaced, then I’m not needed.
We can also apply this individual value-add approach to our activities away from work. If I’m on an outside board or committee, but I see I’m not adding any value, it’s time to get off that board. If I’m not adding value to my marriage…well, you get the idea.
And if we feel that we’re providing value, but the other person doesn’t see it, then we must do a better job of communicating that value.
Second Way—Business or Team Use the value-add concept is to apply it to our business, or the team we lead. If we’re competing on quality, and charging more for our product, we must be able to translate “quality” into something tangible that will resonate with the client.
- The higher quality saves the customer $10,000 per week.
- Or it reduces labor by 50 hours per week.
Too often we deal in generalities or even trivialities. But we must be specific and compelling in communicating value.
If you’re not the leader of the company or the team, you can also apply the value proposition to the ideas you’re trying to sell. If we bring an idea to the boss, it’s not enough to explain the benefits, although benefits are important.
We must be able to provide concrete results that will result from this idea, whether it’s a new product, or an idea for increasing profitability.
Third Way—Evaluating Performance The final way is to apply the value-add concept is in evaluating the performance of others, whether they’re your direct reports; team members; divisions and departments within the company; or even products or services you offer.
You ask the same questions you asked about yourself. What value does this person bring to the company? As always you look hard at specifics. Then apply the same questions to teams and departments.
If you can’t identify the value that person (or department or product or service) brings to your business, something is radically wrong. It’s all about performance and results.
Return on Investment Remember that the value-add must exceed significantly the financial investment the client makes in purchasing your product or service; or the investment, perhaps in time and resources, the boss makes in adopting the project you’ve been promoting.
The greater the return on that investment, and thus the greater value added, the more likely you close the deal.
What value do you bring to your business, your team? What value does your business or team bring to the table? How well are you articulating your value-add, your value proposition?