Am I posh enough to be an interim manager?
Some time ago I met a contractor. He was telling me about his most recent assignment, where he’d saved his client millions by identifying and implementing supply chain efficiencies. When I asked him why he called himself a contractor and not an interim manager, he replied that he wasn’t ‘posh enough’ Now, admittedly this was said slightly tongue in cheek, but he went on to explain that he’d never been a director of a large organisation, so could never truly call himself an interim. What nonsense! I don’t know what your experience is, but in mine, the fact that someone has been a Director of a large organisation does not necessarily mean they’re any good! Personally, I think sometimes we can spend far too much time trying to work out what to call ourselves, when generally speaking our clients couldn’t care less. They’re more interested in what we can do for them. If we can make a substantial contribution and they have confidence in us to actually deliver results, then there’s a good chance they’ll hire us whatever we decide to call ourselves. The problem with this chap though was that he wanted to increase his day rate. When he told me what he wanted to increase it to, I was floored. In my opinion, he was, even at his target figure, charging about half of what he was worth. His comment about not being posh enough had taken on a greater significance. He was seriously underselling himself. If you don’t think you’re good (posh) enough to command higher fees, then how’re you going to convince your clients. In fact, if you don’t think you are good enough, you’ll probably never even ask. Now, I’m not saying that high fees are the be all and end all or the route to happiness, but there is nothing wrong with charging what you are worth (and if you don’t want to keep the money, you can give it to a worthy cause of your choice). Rightly or wrongly, people expect interims to come with a higher price tag than contractors because of the perception that they deliver greater value. So, could you market yourself as an interim? In my view the answer is a resounding yes if you have a demonstrable track record of delivering significant business benefits to your clients. Clearly just having a track record is not enough, you then need to build it into your personal value proposition and weave it into all your marketing collateral such as your CV, Linkedin profile and client testimonials. To get you started, let’s look at the personal value proposition as this is the foundation of self-marketing. This is a statement that sums up what you are all about. Many contractors/freelancers/consultants/interims struggle to build an effective one, usually because they develop their propositions from their own point of view and not from that of their potential customers. I hope the following guidelines will help you build a really compelling value proposition as a start point for winning interim assignments at higher day rates. Seven characteristics of irresistible Value Propositions
1. It should be focused on a specific person/people or job role(s). You can’t appeal to an organisation, only people
2. It should focus on what matters most to those people. It should address the number 1 or 2 on their to-do list. The higher up their list, the more valuable
3. It should appeal to them emotionally as well as logically. Showing them how they will benefit personally.
4. It should be short, sweet and written in THEIR language.
5. It should address specific challenges the customer faces – addressing a pain they are facing or a gain they are missing out on
6. It should be focused. Don’t make it a panacea for all their woes or you’ll look like a Jack of All Trades.
7. It should differentiate you from your competition
Hope this helps