Pricing projects based on the value they deliver — instead of the time you spend on them — will allow you to increase your fees.
Adam started out as an electrical apprentice while in college pursuing an electrical engineering degree. After 20 years in construction management, he decided to make the leap to consulting, as a way to give back to the construction and contracting community. He attributes his decision to make this transition into consulting, in part, to The Consulting Success System — How to Become a Successful Consultant. Adam has now been growing Ascent Consulting for three years. He calls these years a time of accelerated growth, a greater depth of understanding and a time to hone his skills of understanding as a consultant deliver and sell value and deliver top-quality projects to his clients. On this episode of The Consulting Success Podcast you’ll learn how to effectively grow your business in your area of expertise, how to transition from fee-based to a value-based pricing, and how to recognize when it’s time to start sharing your workload with employees so that you can continue focusing on the work that you do best.
Don’t Know What You’re Doing? Start Here.
Successful consultants like Adam Cooper have been able to successfully navigate the path to consulting success by taking advantage of The Consulting Success System — How to Become a Successful Consultant, which you can learn more about here on the Consulting Success website. Adam is one of over 5,000 consultants around the world that have used our products to land more clients, earn a greater income, and streamline their consulting businesses to enjoy more time-off. Adam claims that when he started out, he didn’t know exactly what he was supposed to be doing or how he was going to do it. By taking advantage of our system and coaching program he was able to establish his path, improve his proposals, and get an advantageous head start to his consulting business. You can find the link to The Consulting Success System below, and learn more about how this system can help you take your consulting business to the next level.
Selling Yourself as a Consultant
Prior to starting Ascent Consulting, Adam worked as a project manager for several large national construction companies throughout the United States. He was responsible for managing materials, labor, subcontractors, budgets, and more, but after 20 years in the construction business, he decided that it was time to make a change. Two of the greatest challenges that he initially faced as a new consultant were learning how to sell himself to clients, and how to price his work. Pricing is often one of the greatest hurdles that consultants have to overcome. Initially you may find yourself, like Adam, pricing out your time, rather than the value that your work is bringing to your clients. You’ll want to listen to Adam’s story as he explains how he figured out the best way to make the shift from time-based to value-based pricing.
One of the first things he did to help overcome this hurdle and correctly price his work was to take advantage of the Accelerator Coaching Program that is available here on the Consulting Success website. He also read books including The Consulting Bible, that helped him learn how to sell value instead of time, and how to have sales and value-based conversations with clients upfront. Early on, Adam would have conversations with his clients based on the budget that they had, and then create an appropriately sized project from there. Now he knows that the first conversation he needs to have with his clients is what kind of value they will gain by taking on a project, and then to proceed from there to structure a deal that will deliver the value that they are seeking. Listen to our conversation to hear more about how you can make this approach work for you, too.
Trial and Error will Lead You to Six-Figure Projects
When Adam wanted to start the value-based pricing model, he didn’t know exactly how to make it work best for him. He was reading consulting books and taking consulting courses, but he still had a lot to learn. He was getting used to hearing “no,” a lot. Adam realized he had to learn how to price his work in a way that was fair to his clients, and made sense for him as the consultant.
It is also essential to develop a working relationship with your clients. Assessment projects and limited-scope projects are a great way to build their trust and confidence in the work that you can do for them. You can start out with assessment projects, which might be worth $4,000 to $6,000. Next you can offer limited-scope projects, which can be worth up to $30,000 or $40,000. These smaller projects are the ones that build a foundation of trust and greater confidence with your clients. They will see the value that your work is bringing to their company through increased sales opportunities, better employee morale, increased profitability, or well-designed marketing. The value of your contributions to their organization will be apparent in these smaller projects, and those small projects will lead to the bigger six-figure projects.
Don’t Give Up on Value Pricing
It can be extremely discouraging for any consultant to hear the word “no,” but getting rejected once, twice, or even a dozen times, is not a valid excuse for giving up. Adam shares how he turns those rejections into learning opportunities, starting with going back to the businesses and asking them what he can do differently next time. An initial rejection from a company does not always mean that they have no interest in doing any business with you ever again. Often it simply means that something needs to be reworked so that things makes better sense for your client. You’ll want to hear how exactly he forms his questions so that he can improve his proposal and approach, to turn a rejection into another successful project.
Another essential tip to helping yourself through hearing the ‘nos,’ is to surround yourself with people who want to see you be successful. If you are truly committed to switching over to value-based pricing, you have to take the time to figure out exactly how it will work for you. Adam explains that he wasn’t willing to give up, but that he needed a support system to help him get over this steep learning curve. You’ll probably recognize at least one of the names that he mentions in the network of colleagues and friends that helped him get the success he was looking for.
Expand Your Staff to Maintain Your Free Time
As your business grows, you will have to decide how much time you want to commit yourself to getting the work done. Chances are you didn’t leave a 40-hour workload behind to take on a 60-hour workload in your consulting business. As your projects and clients increase, it may be worth it to bring on employees to help lighten your task list, and help your business grow. Just nine months into getting his business up and running, Adam decided to bring additional help on to help him with the ever-increasing work that he was facing. Ascent Consulting is now a business of three, and Adam explains the various ways that his staff help him get his work done and his clients satisfied. He also shares two ways that he knew it was time to bring in help.
First, maintain a sense of scale-ability. You have to be realistic about the vision that you have for your consulting business, and your ability to get it there yourself. Adam knew that his company would only be able to grow so big if he kept working at it alone. For him, that was when it was time to bring in additional help. If you want to take on bigger and better projects than you can handle independently, then it will be worth it to increase your staff size so that your business dreams can be realized.
Second, Adam refers to an exercise that he and I worked on together, to help him identify the most valuable activities that he could be focusing on. He refers to it as the ‘10s’ activity. If you break down all of the tasks that must be completed in your business into their dollar value, you will see that some tasks are more valuable than others. Tasks that are worth $10 or $100 are the ones that can be delegated to someone else, so that you can focus on the tasks that are worth $1,000, $10,000, or more. By freeing up your schedule to dedicate more time to the most valuable tasks, you are taking a great step toward securing your company’s greatest success. If you are trying to convince yourself that you can do everything in your business by yourself but are constantly drowning in menial tasks, you will want to be sure to listen to Adam as he details how this exercise has worked for him in finding greater success at Ascent Consulting.
Schedule Down Time for Yourself and Your Clients
Every consultant wants to get their business to the point that they can enjoy some down time, and on this episode of The Consulting Success Podcast, you’ll hear a variety of ways that Adam has made sure to take care of himself. From running and golfing to updating his website just for fun, Adam seems to have found the way to maximize his work-life balance. But he also shares great tips for turning work into pleasure by incorporating networking and relationship building into fun, starting with a monthly poker night with his clients. If that sounds like the kind of relationships that you are aiming to build with your clients, then you won’t want to miss out on his tips for scheduling time for fun. You’ll hear all about this and more on this episode of The Consulting Success Podcast with Adam Cooper.
[:23] An introduction of Adam and how he transitioned from project manager to consulting.
[3:45] Adam’s greatest challenge, starting out, began with pricing his work.
[6:34] A breakdown of time vs. value pricing structures.
[8:02] Before you land a six-figure project, expect to hear a lot of ‘nos.’
[12:38] At what point should you bring additional help into your business?
[17:14] Betting on a work-life balance.
[19:20] How you can learn more about Ascent Consulting.
Mentioned in This Episode:
The Consulting Success System 2.0 — How to Become a Successful Consultant
The Consulting Bible: Everything You Need to Know to Create and Expand a Seven-Figure Consulting Firm, by Alan Weiss
Tweetables:“I can adjust project scopes now that fit within a client’s budget, maximizing their value, and my fee.” — Adam Cooper
“I had to learn how to be fair with a client, and price projects in a way that was fair to them and made sense for me.” — Adam Cooper
“A ‘no’ for me means I’ve got something more to learn, and I’ve got to go back and try again.” — Adam Cooper
“I found success because I was really committed to the process, and to the end result.” — Adam Cooper
“The consulting business is all about relationships.” — Michael Zipursky