How to Consistently attract high-paying consulting clients

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  • Michael Zipursky
  • Consultant & CEO
  • ConsultingSuccess.com

VIDEO: Consulting Fees Too High? Here’s How to Respond

One question a lot of consultants have is what should they do when a buyer says that their fees are too high?

It’s an interesting question because when a buyer says to you that your fees are too high, it’s not actually an issue of price.

Consulting-Fees-Too-High

It’s Not Price

Rarely does a buyer make a decision strictly on price.

The real issue if you’re hearing that from a buyer is that they don’t yet see the real value that you can provide to them.

If they’re only looking at the price as a number, they see it as an expense. They’re not actually seeing it as an investment.

There are three things that you want to consider if you are encountering buyers telling you that your fees are too high.

Ask The Right Questions

First, you want to make sure that you really know how to ask the right questions and what the right questions are during the sales conversation so that you can really discover the value that your buyer and that ideal client cares most about.

Communicate Value

Second, that you can then use that information that you’ve discovered to communicate the value so that the buyer clearly sees how you can help them and what value they will be able to receive.

If we think about it this way, if you invest one dollar with me and you’re confident that you’re going to be able to make back three dollars for every one dollar that you invest, how much will you invest? Of course, as much as you possibly can.

But if they’re only looking at the price as a number, they see it as an expense. They’re not actually seeing it as an investment.

What you want to think about and what I would encourage you to consider is how to shift their mindset from seeing your fee as an expense to rather seeing it as an investment.

The fastest and most effective way to do that is to ensure that you’re actually communicating the value and the ROI that the buyer will be able to see by engaging you in that project.

There’s always a cost and a loss that happens or occurs when action is not taken.

We talked about step number one which is being clear and making sure that you know the right questions to ask during the sales conversation. Step two is to ensure that you are communicating that value to the buyer.

Gain and Loss

The third step is to look at and to discuss with the buyer so that they can clearly see not only what they stand to gain by engaging you in terms of ROI, value, results, but also what the potential loss is for them.

If they don’t take action right now to move forward, if they don’t engage you, if they don’t fix the problem that they’re having. Continue Reading

Growing Your Consulting Business Using Inbound Marketing

Inbound-Marketing-For-Consultants

I was having a business check-in and accountability call the other day with a client who is part of our coaching program for consultants.

As we were chatting away the term “inbound marketing” came up.

But remember with inbound marketing you’re mostly creating your content so it’s less expensive or even “free”

The client who I’ll call Jake (to protect his privacy) was excited, as he had just finished attending a small seminar. It was on how to write and structure blog posts for his new blog and website which we recently designed, developed, and launched for him as part of our “websites for consultants” program.

I mentioned to Jake that I thought blogging was a great idea for him and that it could be a solid part of his overall Inbound Marketing strategy. He interrupted me for a second to explain further, as he didn’t know what I meant by that term.

Now Jake’s a smart guy so if he didn’t know what it meant I thought others might not either. So today I want to introduce this important and relatively new marketing concept (Been around since 2008) to all of you all so you can start using it to grow your consulting businesses as well, sound good?

What Is Inbound Marketing?

As Wikipedia puts it “Inbound marketing is promoting a company through blogs, podcasts, video, eBooks, enewsletters, whitepapers, SEO, physical products, social media marketing, and other forms of content marketing which serve to attract customers.”

Below is a diagram (via BIGSHOT Inbound) that explains the concept in a visual format

hubspot-funnel

In a nutshell inbound marketing is the strategy of creating and publishing various types of valuable and useful content related to your expertise that is targeted at potential customers and people that are already searching for that information on the Internet.

It’s the complete opposite of the older style of marketing that is also known to some as “outbound marketing”. This is where you put out information to the masses (like a TV or Newspaper AD) and hope that some of the people that see your message will be the right fit and respond.

There’s a Cambridge based company called HubSpot who are on the forefront of Inbound Marketing and they put together this chart below to show some clear examples of both inbound (permission) and outbound (interruption) marketing methods:

Inbound-Marketing-vs-Outbound-Marketing

Is Outbound Marketing Bad?

The answer to that is no and I’ll explain why. TV ads, cold calling, direct mail, online advertising and other forms of outbound marketing still definitely have their place in an overall marketing strategy. If you know what you’re doing they can be very effective and profitable as well. Continue Reading

VIDEO: 2 Ways to Grow a Consulting Business: Volume vs Value

There’s really two ways to build a consulting business. You can do it based on volume or you can do it based on value.

The approach that you take will really determine and influence many factors in terms of how you go about growing your business, what strategies you’ll use, what type of marketing you’re going to employ, how you’re going to structure your pricing.

Volume-vs-Value

First, let’s just look at an example.

$500k Example

Let’s say that you want to earn half a million dollars this year as an independent consultant or a small consulting firm.

We’ll just use that number as an example. Your specific situation might be a lot higher or it might be lower.

Do you want a hundred clients or do you want to only need to have ten clients?

Whatever it is that doesn’t matter, but let’s say to generate $500,000 in income. One approach is that you could have an average sale, an average project, be $5000.

In order for you to generate that $500,000, that half a million dollars in income, you would then need to get a hundred clients at $5000 over that one year period for you to generate amount of money.

How Many Clients?

Do you want to work with a hundred clients within a 12-month period? That’s question number one.

The other factor or the other approach would be what about if you had an average sale, an average project of $50,000?

Now you only need to have ten clients over the period of 12 months for you to still generate that exact same number.

Do you want a hundred clients or do you want to only need to have ten clients?

That question is really what influences the volume-based value approach and should influence how you decide that you’re going to build your consulting business.

If you take the volume approach, you would need to get a hundred clients at $5000 for you to generate that half a million dollars.

Key Differences

The volume approach requires that obviously you have a lot more marketing to support landing a lot more clients. It also requires that you have a lot more infrastructure.

You typically need to have a lot more processes, systems, even people in place to help you to grow to that level.

The volume-based value approach, in terms of how you want to grow your business, is one that you should really think about.

Because not only do you have to win a hundred projects, you have to be able to service and deliver on those hundred projects.

If we flip to the other side, the value-based approach is one where in this case if your average project size is only $50,000 then you only need ten clients at that level. Continue Reading

Consulting Proposals Don’t Win Business, This Does…

Consulting-Proposals-Dont-Win-Business

Would like to win more consulting business?

If the answer is “YES!” read on…

Have you ever felt like your proposal is what helps you to win the business?

Well, if you’re relying on your proposals to win business…

Everything starts with a real conversation. Your #1 job is to get your ideal client’s attention and engage them so they want have a meaningful conversation with you.

If you even believe that your proposal plays a significant part in landing that business you’re in for a surprise.

Proposals aren’t meant to win business!

They’re not.

It’s as simple as that.

Far too many consultants rely on proposals.

They’re like proposal writing machines.

The first chance they get they send off a proposal.

They believe the more proposals they send out the more business they’ll land.

It doesn’t work like that.

Instead follow this approach:

1. Meaningful conversation

Everything starts with a real conversation. Your #1 job is to get your ideal client’s attention and engage them so they want have a meaningful conversation with you.

If you can’t do this there’s no way you’re winning their business.

2. Ask the right questions

During that conversation you’ll want to ask them the right questions. This is important. If you ask the wrong questions you’ll have no way to position your offering in a powerful way.

When you ask the right questions you’re able to communicate greater value and ultimately make the right offer. You get to position your offering so that your ideal client is ready and WANTING to buy from you.

3. Communicate your offer

As mentioned above once you’ve asked all the right questions you can communicate that value to the buyer. Failure to do this means you’ll likely lose the business.

And even if you do win the business you’ll almost always receive far lower compensation than you could have…if you knew the right questions to ask and communicated greater value. Continue Reading

VIDEO: How to Land Bigger Consulting Projects and Increase Your Fees

Today, let’s talk about how you can increase your income and how you can earn more consulting revenue.

The fastest way to do that is by landing bigger projects. That is hands down the fastest way.

Land-Bigger-Consulting-Clients

If you can go from, let’s say, earning a $500 project and start turning that into a $5000 project, or if right now your average project size is $5000 and you can turn that into $50,000, hands down increasing your fees and average project size is the fastest way to grow your income.

Now, how do you do that?

2 Ways to Earn More

The first thing that you should think about here is identifying larger clients.

If you can work with larger clients, you can almost instantly start charging higher fees because larger companies are used to paying not only higher fees but they’re also used to taking on larger projects and larger project sizes.

That’s the first thing, is to identify larger clients that you can go after and then start to win larger client business because that will translate into larger project value for you.

Instead, if you can shift that to going after significantly larger clients that are used to investing $2500, $5000, $10,000 a month or significantly more from the exact same type of service you’ll be far better off.

The second thing is to figure out how you can actually start earning more and charging higher fees even with your existing clients.

Adding More Value

There are several different considerations here but a few of them are to look at what additional services or products can you provide to your ideal clients that you’re not currently providing, that you can offer greater value and as a result of that earn greater compensation.

You can also look at starting to implement different types of packaging, different pricing and positioning so that it comes across as that you’re providing greater value, again, which allows you to earn higher fees.

What additional can you add to the mix for your clients, and also how can you position your offers in a way that they are perceived as being of greater value which you can then earn higher fees.

4X Your Fees

Think about what you can do right now to take your average project value and double it or triple it or quadruple it, and what that would look like.

If you’re currently offering an average project value and project size at $5000, what would you need to do to turn that into a $50,000 project? Give that some thought.

Make a Shift

Now, the other recommendation and suggestion that I have for you on this is that your marketing should start to shift. Continue Reading

How to Create a Winning Consulting Offer

Create-a-Winning-Consulting-Offer

A consultant recently told me “People don’t see a need for my offer.”

They went on to explain that their offer isn’t getting any traction. And that their ideal consulting clients aren’t interested in it.

It’s like they’re fishing for a trophy client and yet no one is taking the bait.

This is quite a common concern I hear from consultants.

Once they make the initial purchase it opens up a back door to all kinds of additional services and value that you can provide them.

What’s important to realize is that hope isn’t lost…

You just need to change your approach.

If you’re offer isn’t converting there’s only two options you should consider.

1. Change your offer

Not all buyers will want what you’re offering.

If you get enough “I’m not interested” or “that’s not what we want” comments from buyers your offer may be the wrong one.

I spoke with a new consulting firm recently. They’ve been in business for 4 months. Things are going well. They have some initial revenue and clients. But they’re not clear on their offer. So they joined my coaching program to get some help.

One of the first things we did was break down who their ideal clients really are. This gave them a lot of clarity.

Then we looked at the problems they are having most often.

And then we figured out which services and solutions would be the right ones to offer.

As a consultant you can likely offer A LOT of different services to your clients.

Yet not all of them will be the right ones to offer initially.

Certain services are better suited as an initial offer. And others as a secondary offer. Some aren’t going to be a fit at all.

And this will also depend on who your ideal client is.

In the case of the new consulting firm, we quickly prioritized their offerings so they could clearly see what their first offer should be.

Your first offer should be the one that your ideal clients are most likely to buy from you now.

Once they make the initial purchase it opens up a back door to all kinds of additional services and value that you can provide them.

If your current offer isn’t getting the traction you’d like, consider changing the offer.

Figure out what’s the #1 problem buyers want to solve. And then offer them a solution to that problem.

2. Change your market

Another option is to make your offer to a different market.

Your offer ‘as is’ could be very valuable to a buyer. It might solve the exact problem that someone has…

…that someone however may be a different person than you currently have in mind. Continue Reading

VIDEO: How to Overcome Fear: Tips for Consultants

Today, I want to talk with you about overcoming fear.

I was recently speaking with a consultant who’s in my coaching program.

He’s very good at what he does.

He knows how to provide value and results for his clients but one thing was really holding him back. I actually see this one thing with many consultants.

And this one thing really holds back your progress. And that’s exactly what he was feeling.

So let’s explore how you can make more progress.

How-Consultants-Overcome-Fear

Tracking Progress

When I would speak with him, I would ask him to give me an update in terms of what actions he was taking, and the same response would come back which is, “Not enough.”

When I dug deeper into this with him, what really became clear and what I’ve now seen with so many consultants all around the world in all different industries over the years, is that fear is holding him back.

Now, what do I mean by that and what kind of fear are we talking about?

What I really saw here and what I want to share with you is that many consultants face a fear of rejection, a fear of wondering what will happen and thinking about the negative potential result that might come from reaching out directly to ideal clients.

If you’re filling your schedule with all types of activities that aren’t as direct, that take more time for you to actually turn that into a meaningful conversation, then you want to readjust your priorities and your focus.

When we talk about our marketing and we when we talk about what activities can really move your business forward, one of the most direct and impactful actions and tactics that you can take is to reach out directly to your ideal consulting clients.

Direct Action

Whether it’s by phone or by email or by LinkedIn or some other way, taking direct action to get in front of your ideal clients is the fastest way for you to end up creating more opportunities to have meaningful conversations with your ideal clients, which then actually allows you to win more business.

Before you can win business you need to have a meaningful conversation with your ideal client. What I call sales conversation with them, where you can really assess their needs and their challenges, their problems, their goals to see if there is a good fit, if you can really help them to achieve the result that they want or to overcome the problem that they have.

Back to the obstacle of fear. Continue Reading

Should You Take Equity or Shares from Clients?

Take-Equity-Or-Shares-From-Clients

I was recently in New Orleans sitting by the pool at our villa when a coaching client sent me an email.

New Orleans Pool Villa
The pool at the villa we stayed at

His question “I have an early-stage prospective client and they really want to work with me. Before any pricing, he said that they might pay part in cash, part in equity. Good? Bad? What else could I offer?”

The reality however is that very few companies that issue shares end up going public.

I’ve received this same question over the years from other consultants too.

I thought I’d take a few minutes right now and share how you can deal with this too.

Where’s the Value?

The first thing to recognize is that when a private company gives you shares they are essentially giving you a share of their business.

In almost all instances you’ll receive shares or a percentage of the company with non-voting rights. Which simply means that you can’t have a direct say or influence on the company, how they pay dividends, etc.

Essentially, your shares have no value to them at that time. They are a piece of paper and that’s really what they are worth.

Taking Off

If you believe that the company has exceptional growth prospects than those shares may end up having great value to them.

In order for this to happen you’d either have to find a buyer for those shares if the company is still private. Or, the more likely case, sell those shares once the company goes public.

The reality however is that very few companies that issue shares end up going public. I have share certificates from companies who gave me hundreds of thousands of shares. They told me they were going public. And because this happened many years ago before I knew better those shares ended up being worth nothing. The companies never went public.

But if you see a company that really does have that fast growth potential and you’re willing to wait a 1-5 years those shares could be worth a substantial sum.

Imagine if you’d received early shares from Apple, Tesla, Salesforce.

Cash Counts

My suggestion to my coaching client was to ensure that the cash amount they receive from the buyer is sufficient.

That he’d be happy with the cash payment regardless of what happens with the shares. Continue Reading

VIDEO: Small Consulting Projects and Clients: Are They Really Worthwhile?

Video Blog Summary:

The question today is should you ever take on a small project?

Does it make sense? Is it worthwhile? Is it a good strategy?

Small-Consulting-Projects-Clients-Are-They-Really-Worthwhile-Final

Well, let’s explore this together.

In the vast majority of cases, I would suggest against taking on smaller projects. Why? Because when you work on larger projects you have the ability to create greater value for your clients.

Create Greater Value

And as you’re creating greater value and working with larger clients on larger projects it also allows you to earn greater compensation.

You can make a lot more money by working with larger clients on larger projects than you can with smaller clients on smaller projects.

There are certain situations where taking on smaller projects really does make sense and can be a very effective strategy.

Going back to what I shared in the previous video around value versus volume, if you’re working with significantly smaller clients on smaller projects you’re really creating a volume-based business because you have to work with a lot more clients in order to earn the same income that you could achieve with working with significantly fewer clients at higher fee levels.

There are certain situations where taking on smaller projects really does make sense and can be a very effective strategy.

When You’re Getting Started

The first is if you’re just getting started as a consultant. You have expertise but maybe you haven’t put that expertise out into the marketplace yet, and so by working and taking on smaller projects it allows you to start getting results for clients that you can turn into testimonials, create case studies around.

You can then take that consulting expertise and that experience that you’ve now developed as a consultant into the marketplace and start to use that to land more clients and to build up your track record and experience as a consultant. Continue Reading

4 Proven Steps to Overcoming Client Objections

Overcoming-Client-Objections

Objections from buyers of consulting services are commonplace.

Yet most consultants find themselves shutting tight like a clam and hoping they don’t encounter a buyer’s objection.

That’s a bad move and won’t get you anywhere.

In fact, if you want to win more consulting business you’ll want to do the exact opposite.

You’ll want to be prepared to deal with objections. Learn how to respond and handle them so you can turn a ‘no’ equivalent into a resounding “Yes.”

In this article I’m going to share with you and together explore four of the most common client objections.

Client Objection #1

No-Budget

One of the most common objections consultants hear is “We don’t have the budget allocated for this.”

When a consulting client or buyer says this don’t accept it and end the conversation.

Prepare to ask the buyer questions and explore the situation with them.

Every company, unless they are deep into bankruptcy has costs. They are spending money.

The question isn’t if they have the budget. The question is, will they direct that money towards and invest it in and with you?

1) Redirect the budget – The first recommendation I have for you is to redirect the budget. Our role as consultants is to demonstrate to buyers that they will be better investing with us. Show them that they will receive greater value and ROI with you than they will by investing in other areas. When you do this effectively they will want to redirect their budget from other areas to invest it in your services.

That doesn’t mean you give up. Instead, ask your buyer the right questions.

2) Where is the budget going? – In order for the buyer to redirect the budget you’ll need more information. Find out where their current budget is going? Where are they spending the money? Can you show them how to direct their budget in a more effective manner? If you can, they’ll often move their budget to you.

3) Is it a priority? – If your offer isn’t a priority for the buyer there’s little reason for them to take action on it now. Probe to find out what their current priorities are. Do they make sense? Is your offer going to solve their biggest problem? Will it help them achieve a result that they see as a priority? If yes, make sure you communicate that to them. If it doesn’t, and they are already focused on the right priorities, encourage them to keep taking action on that. You can always work with them at a later stage. Continue Reading