One of the questions new consultants always have concerns how to price their services. If you can imagine how hard that is to do for consultants, then you can imagine how hard it is for someone to hire us when they don’t have a clue what services we can provide might cost.


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Recently, a consultant friend of mine came across a request for services, where the potential client began by asking for price and nothing else. The consultant said that a price is hard to give when there are no details on the project. He asked a few questions, then waited for a response. When it came, the person admitted that she hadn’t really thought much about what she specifically wanted, but thought that hearing prices might help her decide the scope of the project. That’s always bad for business and rarely ends well.

The reality is that maybe half of all consultants shouldn’t be going into projects with a set rate unless they’re comfortable with the work and the time it might take. For instance, a plumber might have a rate of $80 an hour because, except in extreme conditions, most of what they’re going to do is the same from client to client. A coach might have a rate of $150 an hour for the same reason, whereas a consultant who works in specific types of projects might set a base of $10,000 or more.

The flip side of this is when a project might involve many different factors that could immediately put them in the red. For instance, if you own a lawn service, your rate should be different for a home with a lawn that 100 square feet as opposed to one that’s an acre and a half. The time it’s going to take is multiplied along with costs such as gas and the wear on the equipment.

Writing projects work the same way. A lot of questions need to be asked: how many words; how many links; does it need images; is it for a periodical, blog, website, book or something else; what’s the topic (how much research will need to be done); how many articles… you get the idea. Unless you’re a hack writer willing to sell your soul for $20 an article, you going to price based on how these questions are answered and what your needs are professionally.

You can’t be a consultant and be squeamish about getting what you feel you’re worth receiving. True, if you have competitors, you don’t want to price yourself out of potential contracts. You also don’t want to leave money on the table by accepting something based on what you “think” you know the client wants from you versus knowing exactly what the client wants. I’ve lost a lot of income over the years by accepting what I thought later on was an amount less than what the services I was delivering should have been paying me.

Consulting is a tough business that requires strength of character as well as integrity. Sometimes it takes asking a lot of questions to get to the root of the problem. Those questions also help to show your capabilities and what your services are worth to those prospects.It’s your version of an interview, only you’re on equal footing.

Price points are pain points. Who’s in more pain in the moment, you or the client? If a client isn’t ready to pay your fee, maybe they’re not the client you’re looking for. If they are and you’re willing to negotiate your rate, that’s on you. If not, it’s on them.

In any case, when possible, don’t rush to land a client. Both sides will benefit from learning more about each other by asking questions and listening to what’s being said. If you think your rate is fair, stick to it, but prove that you deserve it.
 

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