Skip Navigation

Consulting Fees: How to Use Premium Pricing and Fees

By Michael Zipursky

Today I’m going to share with you how to position your offerings and your services so that you can earn premium consulting fees. The example I’m going to use is from my last trip to Japan.

I was walking through a very well-known department store in Japan. Anyone that knows me knows I’m not a big shopper. I certainly don’t try to spend time in malls or department stores if I don’t have to.

Then I saw this: a single strawberry for about $10 USD. Who would pay ten dollars for one strawberry?

When I do need to, I am typically in-and-out. I know what I’m looking for. I go in there, I get it, and I’m out of there. I’m not just spending time window-shopping or looking at the latest styles and trends on the racks, but there’s something very special about department stores in Japan.

They’re meticulous. They have the most amazing merchandising, and as you’ll soon see, they also do a very good job when it comes to pricing.

12 Strawberries for $70

1As I was walking through Hankyu department store I saw a package of 12 strawberries. They were beautiful. Perfectly shaped and a deep red color.

Each one has a nice little bubble layer of protection wrapped around it to protect it from bruising against the other strawberries.

These 12 strawberries sell for 7,344 yen, around $70 USD.

Then I saw this: a single strawberry for about $10 USD. Who would pay ten dollars for one strawberry?

Oh My Mangoes and a $400 Steak

It keeps getting better. Next, we have a single mango. Yes, it does come with a nice wooden box. It comes with a nice bow, and it’s wrapped and has some stickers on it.

The sweetness of this mango will be like no other mango. But it will set you back about $200 USD.

Next I went to check out the meat section. I was trying to look for the most expensive offering they had, and this is what it was.

It was the select premium Kobe beef. Now, you may have heard of Kobe beef before.

Kobe beef isn’t actually from Kobe (which is in Hyogo prefecture in Japan). Kobe beef refers to a level of quality that the Kobe beef brand is looking for and which it will put its seal on.


Well what you see in this photo is the premium range of Kobe beef. For 100 grams of this steak it will cost you $200. Considering an average steak is about 200 grams that would work out to be a $400 investment in steak pleasure.

Now, I can tell you from first-hand experience eating plenty of Kobe beef that this steak will melt in your mouth.

Your Consulting Fees

Are your consulting fees the equivalent of a $5 mango or a $50 one? How can the pricing for something that appears to be so similar be so different?

It all comes down to perception of value and the actual value being created.

If you want to earn higher fees, focus on providing and communicating more value.

Consultants are often scared to increase their fees. They think that if they do they’ll lose business or somehow lose out on opportunities.

There are examples all around us from cars, to meat, fruit, clothing and more that clearly show that premium pricing is a viable strategy.

In order to earn premium consulting fees follow these guidelines…

First I’d like to offer you the idea that pricing, your fees, are rarely the reason a buyer will not engage you. The real issue is that the buyer can’t justify spending a certain level of money because they don’t see that the price is aligned with the level of value they will receive.

If you want to earn higher consulting fees, focus on providing and communicating more value.

Perception Counts

The real issue is perception. When I look at a two-hundred dollar mango, for me, I don’t perceive that to be worth two hundred dollars.

However, because it’s in a box, because it’s wrapped so nicely, and because the staff tell me about how sweet it is and how it will be such an amazing mango…all of a sudden I feel prepared to spend more.

Now, will I spend $200 on this mango? No. But will I be prepared to go from $5 to spending $20? Very likely.

Do you see what just happened? The mango didn’t change. But my perception of its value did.

Another thing to recognize is that even though I won’t spend $200 on this mango, others will.

My guess is that deep down you know you should be charging higher fees. And yet you aren’t. You don’t know how to, or you’re scared of losing existing clients or new opportunities.

Why? Because in every market, for every product or service, some people will investment more than others. Your job as the consultant wanting to earn higher fees is to identify the buyers that will see your fees as an investment rather than a cost.

Are there fewer people will to invest that amount of money into fruit? Sure, but do you need to make as many sales when you’re earning so much more per sale?

My guess is that deep down you know you should be charging higher fees. And yet you aren’t. You don’t know how to, or you’re scared of losing existing clients or new opportunities.

What’s really holding you back from increasing your fees?

After coaching and working with hundreds of consultants personally I can confidently say that the number one reason consultants don’t charge more is because they (a) don’t know how to and (b) don’t have the confidence to actually do it.

2 Steps to Increase Your Confidence Around Fees

There are specific things you can do that will help you increase your confidence.

There are three things you can do, and you should be doing if you want to be able to create a greater perception of value around your products and services.

1. Ask the Right Consulting Sales Conversation Questions

The first is to ensure that you’re always using the right consulting sales conversation questions. I teach all of the consultants in our Clarity Coaching Program how to have an effective sales conversation with buyers of consulting services.

These specific questions help you to start identifying and discovering the value the buyer cares about, and then allow you to communicate that value back to them.

It will also help you to figure out what the ROI will be for the buyer. With that information, you can ensure that you’re creating and communicating the value in everything you’re doing.

The more effective you are in asking the right questions the more you’ll learn about your buyer and the more you’ll be able to communicate and position your value in a way that aligns with your buyer.

The approach most consultants take with their consulting sales conversations is to ask very basic questions. They are surface questions.

They provide some insight but not enough to help you position your value in a meaningful way.

When you think about a sales conversation, imagine it like an onion. It has a lot of layers.

You want to keep peeling back those layers. You want to keep asking deeper and deeper questions. When a buyer tells you something, ask them why?

“Why is that so important to you? Why do you want to do that right now? What have you tried before?”

Your mindset will shift to one of value and you’ll then take the steps necessary to learn how to effectively position your offerings and charge more.

The more questions you ask, the more information you will get, and the better you’ll be able to communicate that value and guide the conversation.

2. Give Yourself A Pay Raise

This is the decision to give yourself a pay raise. I’ve seen this more times than I can remember with consultants I’ve worked with, where the moment you decide to charge more is the start of you actually receiving higher fees.

More than the HOW of increasing your fees, the decision to start actually DOING it is what matters.

Because the moment you make that decision it becomes a turning point for you.

Once you make the commitment to charge higher fees you are telling yourself that you’re ready to recognize the real VALUE you are providing.

Your mindset will shift to one of value and you’ll then take the steps necessary to learn how to effectively position your offerings and charge more.

Remember, it’s not just about what you know, it’s about having the confidence that you’re doing the right thing.

Here are two ways to get that confidence…

2 Shifts to Gain Confidence and Increase Your Consulting Fees

Know What To Do
The first is to know what to do. For example, you should use an effective sales conversation and the right questions.

You should using the right pricing structures to communicate and position for greater value.

And you should make the decision to start charging higher consulting fees.

These are all things that will demonstrate that you KNOW what to do.

But knowing what to do and doing it are two very different things…

Take Action
The second component of actually achieving success and earning higher fees is DOING it.

How do we become more confident? We don’t just sit back thinking about things. We don’t just sit back and make plans for them. We don’t just sit back and prepare for them. We DO them.

The fastest way to learn is to do. And if we don’t succeed to our full potential the first time around, that’s okay because it’s a learning experience.

The longer we think about things (without doing them), the longer it’ll actually take us to see the result we want from them.

What You Need to Increase Your Consulting Fees

  1. Make the decision to earn higher fees and commit to it
  2. Learn HOW to have a more effective consulting sales conversation, ask the right questions, communicate greater value, and use the right pricing structures. You can join our Clarity Coaching Program to learn all about this or find some other way to learn the HOW.
  3. Take action on it. Implement the HOW you’ve learned and refine it.

It really is that straightforward. It doesn’t have to take years for you to earn premium consulting fees.

In fact, almost all of the consultants who come through our Clarity Coaching Program see their fees increase by at least 40-50%, often 200%, 300% or more.

That means you can earn significantly more money with every project and client you take on.

Which also means you can make more by working less. Or work the same amount as you are now and earn significantly more. What would tripling your revenue look like for your business?

Remember, the only thing holding you back from earning higher consulting fees is yourself. You have control. If you want to earn higher fees follow this guide and take action. The sooner you do, the sooner you’ll take your business and income to the next level.

6 thoughts on “Consulting Fees: How to Use Premium Pricing and Fees

  1. Simon Bowen says:

    You’ve absolutely nailed this Michael!

    For some years now, I’ve been teaching my two part model of transactional and transformational value. You’re totally right, it’s all about confidence and understanding the client.

    So many consultants get stuck in the transactional value of the daily fee (what you do) when they really need to go so deep with their understanding of the clients needs that they can be totally confident about the transformational value (the impact you have on the client) they can deliver.

  2. Katie Dillman says:

    Love your example. You are right…there seems to be a market for premium everything, so why not make your service one of them. Great read.

  3. Rita Stewart says:

    Great perspective Sir. Thank you!

Leave a Comment, Join the Conversation!