Should Consultants Offer Guarantees? The Answer May Surprise You…

“That would absolutely freak me out,” my client said.

“Why is that?” I asked.

“Well, because lots of things could happen…” the client responded.

I went on to explain the reasons for considering offering a guarantee. And by the end of our coaching call, my client knew exactly what to do.

You can find plenty of research that suggests the benefits of offering a guarantee. Conversion Fanatics found that adding a guarantee increased sales 26%.

Neil Patel also found that offering a guarantee increased his sales by 21%.

Now if you’re following this discussion closely, you’ll notice these examples are for products, not services.

Guarantee Benefits for Consultants

So, can consultants benefit by offering a guarantee on their services?

Here’s the thing. Don’t guarantee something you can’t control.

Well, let’s consider the example of BBBK, a pest-extermination company owned by S.C. Johnson and Son. In a HBR article many years ago, Christopher Hart shared how BBBK was able to charge ten times more than its competitors and still maintain a disproportionally high market share in the areas where it was operating at the time.

“But Michael, I’m a consultant, not a pest killer,” you might say.

Yeah, I know, but look for the similarity in the situation, not just the differences.

When you open your eyes to opportunity, you will see it all around you.

BBBK provides services to its clients that include restaurants, high-end hotels, and other businesses. Like a consultant, they are serving the B2B market.

higher-consulting-fees-chart

Here are some of the benefits that come from offering a guarantee:

  1. You can command higher prices because buyers regard your offer as differentiated and better than those that don’t offer a guarantee
  2. You can win more business because buyers perceive less risk in working with you
  3. You can win business faster because buyers perceive less risk
  4. In a competitive market, a guarantee can really set you apart
  5. Buyers sense your level of confidence with a guarantee because it makes them feel more comfortable working with you.

Examples of Guarantees in the Consulting Industry

One consultant in the big data and analytics space has a low-key guarantee that reads:

“We bring experience in big data and analytics to help ensure that your business can access data for insights that enable better decisions and create value.  We guarantee results.”

Another consultant in management gets much more specific with his guarantee:

“My fees are based on your unconditional satisfaction: If you do not feel full value was received, you can decide how much value you received and pay only that or nothing at all.”

And here’s one from a consultant in the engineering space:

“I will deliver the results we agree to. If we don’t achieve them within the timeline agreed, and as long as you’ve followed my recommendations, I will continue working with you to deliver the results at no additional cost.”

reward-risk-consulting-2

Aren’t Guarantees Risky?

Some consultants worry that guarantees are risky and choose not to offer them.

I think that’s short-sighted and a weak reason not to offer one.

Think about it. If your clients weren’t happy with the work you’ve done together, wouldn’t you do whatever you could to ensure they were happy?

Even without a formal guarantee your goal, if you care about your clients, is to always provide them with value.

If you agree with this, it’s as if you are already offering a guarantee but simply choosing not to state it – which means you’re not getting the benefits that doing so provides.

The main concern consultants have is that each project comes with variables that are out of their control. Which means that even if they do their best and perform their work flawlessly, the project may still not be completed on time.

Not necessarily because they didn’t do their part, but simply because something happened with the client or company that delayed or changed the timeline.

Here’s the thing. Don’t guarantee something you can’t control.

You see, a guarantee will help you win more attention, interest, and trust. It will probably create more opportunities to have conversations with your ideal clients.

If your guarantee states that you will complete the project on time and on budget every time, ensure that you also state this is based on the client keeping up with their responsibilities and timeline agreed to.

A guarantee is a two-way agreement you make with your client. Both sides must stick to their obligations for the guarantee to be valid. If a client doesn’t put in the work or implement your recommendations, there’s no way they will get the results you both discussed and agreed to.

A Guarantee Isn’t a Contract

guarantees-for-consultants

Some consultants mistake a guarantee for a contract. The two are not the same.

While you may choose to add a guarantee to your consulting website, you certainly aren’t guaranteeing that it applies, or is offered, to any company in the world.

You see, a guarantee will help you win more attention, interest, and trust. It will probably create more opportunities to have conversations with your ideal clients.

And it is those conversations that will enable you to determine whether the buyer is the right fit and whether you feel comfortable extending your guarantee to them.

Make the Guarantee Count

If you’re going to offer a guarantee, do it with pride and make it count. Here are x tips to keep in mind:

  1. The guarantee should focus on what your clients care about. Don’t simply guarantee some aspect of your business your clients don’t value.
  2. Keep the guarantee straightforward. The more complex you make it, the less powerful it will become. You want a buyer to understand it right away.
  3. Promote your guarantee. Don’t keep it hidden. It can provide you with great marketing leverage and can help you to differentiate your business in a competitive market.
  4. Ensure that you’re doing regular check-ins and reviews with your client to stay on top of the project and catch any potential issues before they arise.

To Guarantee or Not

That is the question my friend.

Offering a guarantee is not a requirement for success in the consulting business.

There are many examples of consultants who do not offer guarantees and run thriving practices.

… and there are plenty of consulting firms that do offer them and do exceptionally well.

So should you offer a guarantee?

It depends. Consider these questions to guide your decision:

  • Are you in a competitive market where others aren’t offering a guarantee and you can use it to differentiate yourself?
  • Are you new to consulting and want to eliminate the level of risk to work with so it’s easier for buyers to say yes?
  • Do you have conversations with buyers who end up not working with you or delaying an engagement and believe it is because they don’t know or trust you well enough yet?

If your answer is yes to any of the above, you could benefit significantly by offering a guarantee.

Want My Help to Land More Clients?

Would you like my help to develop your marketing and messaging together so you can attract your ideal clients and create a marketing system that keeps your pipeline full of opportunities with high-paying corporate buyers? That’s exactly what we help consultants with in our Accelerator Coaching Program: Apply Now

Please Share This Article If You Enjoyed It:

  • You are dead on with this one. I started a couple years ago formulating my “Guaranteed Compliance Program” for businesses subject to EPA, DOT and OSHA regulations.
    The guarantee is simple…If you are inspected and found deficient in “foundational” compliance programs, I will pay the fine.
    Note: I do not guarantee the safety of employees or other factors that are day-to-day requirements.
    the secret? compliance is simple – the rules say do this and have that. easy.
    i have had other consultants cringe at the thought of a guarantee. if i am the only one with the guts to do it, so be it.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ed117c7ce52b93f7f9781ebb25887a822d71b896002297ced1383be232ec0adc.jpg

    • @disqus_8V0Nsbs04w:disqus great share and example! Way to implement that. Has it helped you land more business?

      • I have not yet pushed it out into the waters of the market. Very close, but not there yet.
        I will keep you informed.

        • Judson Bartels

          Any updates yet?

  • D Gerke

    As consulting engineers, we do not offer a full guarantee – rather we guarantee our best professional efforts. Here is a phrase from our quotes:
    ————————————-
    Performance and Cost Guarantees – Due to the highly uncertain nature of most EMI (electromagnetic interference) problems, we are unable to provide guarantees of success, nor are we able to provide precise pass/fail guidelines. Often, the extent of the problem is not known until an initial evaluation has been made. As such, all cost estimates are based on a “level of effort,” but estimates will not be exceeded without your prior approval. You will always, however, receive our best professional efforts and advice in any consultation.
    ————————————–
    As professionals, we are like doctors or lawyers. We can not guarantee the operation will succeed nor that we will win the court case. But we will do our best. However, we guarantee the quoted price will not be exceeded without client approval.
    ————————————-
    We DO guarantee publications as follows: “Publications – Not Happy? Full Refund For E-Books Within 30 Days – And you may keep the book – NO RISK to you.”
    ————————————
    Our approach – guarantee what you can, but manage expectations on what you can not control. Has worked for us for 30 years.

    • @dgerke:disqus that’s a great share as well and glad to see it’s worked well for you over the last 30 years!

    • Makes perfect sense, You can’t guarantee what you can’t control. I do not guarantee the “safety” of the employees. I do guarantee that the requirements of the safety rules are in place.

  • Judson Bartels

    I’ve been considering adding a guarantee to our service, but I just had one of my biggest clients go belly up, which is what makes it so nerve-racking. They have had compliance issues for the last many years, and then expected three months with me to fix the problem. Obviously, that did not happen.

    • @judsonbartels:disqus your guarantee should only cover things that you can control.

  • SeeW

    I’m intrigued, but unsure about using it for me. I’m a fundraising consultant, and I know that marketing a guarantee would be a HUGE draw for clients. Essentially, hiring a fundraising consultant means that you’re spending money in order to make more money.

    However, I can do everything right, but ultimately, I’m not in control as to whether people give money or not. I can’t guarantee that. Hmm…I need to put some real thought into what I *could* guarantee.

    Great article, per usual, by the way.

    • Look for other ways to provide a guarantee. What will success look like for the buyer? What parts of that could you guarantee…