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Everyone’s Replaceable, But…

“I can’t ask for more money,” said a client of mine, who absolutely could. When I calmly asked why not, he started answering in the same tone but almost whispered the last two words “I know I’m a specialist, but everyone is replaceable.”

And he was right, technically everyone is replaceable, but that does not mean easily replaceable, or in real danger of getting replaced on a whim. Consider that everyone is also technically edible, but at the same time not in any real danger of being eaten.

Replacing a specialist is often a costly and time-consuming endeavor, and probably not the first thing on a client’s mind. Replacing you requires using time/resources on finding, vetting, and onboarding so they are not going to do that without a good reason.

And people

And as long as the new arrangement is still profitable to them and allows them to save face, asking to be paid more is not a good reason.

Think about 2-4 of your most important clients:

–  If I retired tomorrow, who could they replace me with? What would that cost them, time and money-wise?
– What would be actual good reasons for the client to get rid of me? How can I avoid giving them those reasons?
– If I suspect to be easily replaceable to this type of client, what other type of client would find it significantly harder and why?

Even seemingly tenuous client relationships can reveal great business model pivot opportunities.

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