I have spoken with a lot of consultants recently who have everything that they need to sell their consultancy services. They have great expertise, they know the way to deliver value to their clients through their intellectual property, systems and processes, but they just can’t, won’t or haven’t managed to sell any of their consultancy services.
I see this so many times with so many new consultancy businesses. There are quite a few reasons that constantly stop people from selling their consultancy services, so let me run through them in the hope that it can get you past any blockage that you may have in selling your consultancy services.
Pricing Of Consultancy Services
Let’s start with the perennial ‘elephant in the room’, pricing.
Consultants are often terrified of pricing. They are fearful of rejection. Getting that first paying consultancy gig is so crucial and after selling one, it is so much easier to sell the second, third and then the hundredth. I must have sold over 500 consultancy services now, maybe even closer to 1,000, but I remember selling that first one.
“Why would anyone pay me for what I know?”
“What if I can’t help them and my expertise suddenly fails me?”
“What if they don’t like my advice?”
I know what goes through your mind. It went through mine; it still does sometimes.
The truth is that you just have to sell your service at any price to begin with. Even if you sell at a rate that you feel is ridiculously cheap, if you aren’t selling your consultancy services because you are scared of asking for money, asking for a scarily low amount and getting it will give you so much more confidence next time. It will also give you your first consultancy client which in turn gives you your first client story, or case study, and this can be a part of your sales process to explain to the client why they are getting such a good deal.
If you believe that your consultancy service is worth £1,000 but you are terrified of asking for that amount initially, why not offer it for £250 or £500, the amount that feels insanely cheap to you and that you could sell it at in your sleep, but on the condition that they will allow you to produce a case study on them when the consultancy project or retainer is finished?
“John, I would really like to help you with this project. You know that I have recently started my consultancy business and I am currently looking for some new case study clients. In exchange for a substantial reduction from my normal fees, if you agree to become a case study client, allowing me to write a case study on your results after the project, instead of paying my standard rate of £1,000, as a case study client you can pay only £250. Does that sound good?”
How easy is that? If you are an expert in your sector or niche, and if you are running a consultancy business you must be, then that is a very attractive proposition to any of your prospects.
The key point here is that you have to sell your first consultancy service at whatever price you can get for it. Whilst I always want my consultancy clients to sell at the best price possible for them that still adds huge value for their clients, if you are stuck because you are terrified of charging a higher amount, making this case study offer at a very low price is the way to get past your current blockage.
I can tell you what happens as soon as you start your case study project too. You soon realise how good you are, how much value you add to the client and any thought of selling your expert consultancy services at this ridiculously low price next time around soon flies out of the window. You are now ready to sell your consultancy services for a proper price. Mission accomplished!
Giving away too much for free.
One reason consultants often struggle to sell their first consultancy package or product is that they are so keen to sell that they keep giving away lots and lots of their expertise for free. The thinking is that if they prove they know their onions then the client will pay them for it.
I have seen this happen a huge amount of times in the legal world. Solicitors generally are not naturally born to sell their services, so when a new prospect approaches them they often go out of their way to prove how much they know. They might offer the client a free half hour or one hour meeting, hoping that this will prove to the client how much they know and how good they are.
However, what usually happens is that the solicitor’s prospect finds it very difficult to go from first receiving advice completely free of charge to suddenly being asked to pay £400 per hour for the same advice. What they do is go to another solicitor who offers a meeting but this time asks for a fixed fee payment in advance. That solicitor wins the business.
It can be exactly the same problem for consultants. Being so keen to show your prospects that you really do know your topic of expertise, you give away all of your secrets free of charge. It is then incredibly hard to go from free advice to paid advice.
What you should do is tell your clients you know how to solve their problem or challenge, explain how you have solved a similar problem in a previous life or for a previous client if you have already sold some consultancy services, but don’t tell them the HOW to solve their problem. That is what you are going to get paid for.
For my consultancy services, I offer a free strategy call, but on that call I am very clear about what my prospects should do and the results that they can expect if they do what I advise (the value to them), but I don’t give them the HOW they can do it. That is my paid service and they can only access that when they are one of my consultancy clients.
Are you giving away too much for free?
Clients come and go. Nothing is forever.
It is worth mentioning here that your first clients may well not stay with you for long. They may be attracted to you because your prices are so cheap and you are very eager, but as soon as you realise how good you are at what you do and want to charge a fair price for your services, they may well bulk at this.
That is OK. Let them go. You are not married to them. It is a huge part of the process of selling your consultancy services. As new clients come into your consultancy business as you grow in confidence, these new clients are the ones who will stay with you for the longer term. The clients who start with you are there to get your consultancy business started. Very few of them will stay with you. Enjoy it when they leave. Even sack them when you realise that they are taking the proverbial – let me tell you that feels very good.
Summary – How to sell your consultancy services for the first time.
You have to sell your consultancy service in any way possible to get your consultancy business up and running. Once you sell your first consultancy service, the second, third, fourth and hundredth are so very much easier to sell.
I hope this helps you to make that first sale. If it does, please let me know.