As a corporate consultant I get to work with some of the world’s top organizations – like Kimberly-Clark, McDonalds, Sherwin-Williams, LexisNexis, and The Home Depot to name a few. How did I end up being one of their trusted vendors? It definitely wasn’t by copying my competitors.
I didn’t want to do business like every other consultant. I wanted to stand out as different. So I changed the paradigm in how I build a relationship with corporate clients, position my expertise and particularly how I charge for long-term projects.
Here’s a short list of how I charge for my lucrative long-term corporate projects to supercharge my business:
1). Provide a better price for clients who pay in full.
I reward my clients who pay in full upfront. This not only helps me better plan my revenue streams when I’m starting a new project, it alleviates the stress of managing accounts receivables. If I do give them a payment plan, I charge more as I’m carrying the loan for the work on my end. If this sounds unreasonable, it’s really just like a bank charging interest on money they are loaning you! It’s totally reasonable to charge more for payments since it means more time and energy when you have to resend invoices, reach out to the billing department and chase after companies for payment.
2). When asked to lower your fee – extract value.
Over the years I’ve seen that when companies want a lower fee they hate to be offered lower value. I’ve found this strategy is very powerful because they see that I believe that you get what you pay for so if I do decide to do it for a lesser fee – then yes they are going to get less value. This will also work in your favor because oftentimes they then decide, “No we want it all.” That puts you back in the position of saying, “Okay then pay up!”
3). Don’t mention fees in your conversation.
When I am in the initial exploratory mode with a client I never talk about my fees. Why? Because I want to stay focused on asking questions around what they are trying to achieve – way beyond what they are asking for initially. (Most consultants don’t do this and it’s one of the secrets that have led me to longer-term projects.) I’ve learned from experience that the moment you talk about fees – you’ve lost your power! I only reveal my fees when I send along my Statement of Work. (Yes you heard that correctly. I hardly ever send in one of those long, painful proposals. I usually don’t have to as I gain consensus when I am in conversation with them.
4). Never base your fee on just time.
I don’t charge my corporate clients based on how many hours it’s going to take me to work on a project. I charge them for the value I’m providing. I ask myself, “What is it worth to this client to solve this problem?” This eliminates resentment from both parties. You don’t aggravate your client by billing them for unexpected additional time and you don’t have to suffer the aggravation of spending way more time then you expected and not getting paid for it! When you set your value-based fee – work in contingencies so you’re not billing them for snippets of time here and there.
5). In every proposal, charge what you are worth.
I learned a long time ago that when I do have to submit a proposal I charge what I’m worth. I don’t spend time worrying about what my competitors may be turning in. Early in my career I lowballed some proposals and I regretted it every single time. In fact, today I’m sometimes brought in to fix issues that a consultant who gave a cheap price for a training seminar or a coaching project screwed up.
Companies have money – so don’t get fixated on thinking, “If I don’t price low enough I won’t get the job.” Trust me when I say – you want to work with companies who value what you do and what expertise you bring to the table. If I find that a company wants the cheapest person in town I’m happy to refer some new colleagues that don’t have the breath and depth of experience, wisdom and education that my fees can command from 30 years of experience. Silence that evil twin within and always send the proposal in with a fee that you would be happy to do. And remember – if they come back and request a lower fee – always extract value.
6). Understand the company’s Dominant Buying Motive to avoid scope creep and profit margin erosion.
It’s very important right from the beginning to really understand the objectives the company is looking to achieve. It’s hard for you to determine any type of corporate fee structure if you’re not crystal clear on what they are looking to achieve and what success looks like. If you miss the dominant buying motive you could end up with scope creep – a project that gets too big and unwieldy in scope. This is how you wind up with major profit margin erosion and end up making $5 an hour. Make sure you know what they’re looking for and then plan to over-deliver on your results.
These secrets I’ve shared with you may go against conventional wisdom, but they work! If you’re an image consultant or a business owner that’s looking to work with top tier corporate clients or to be hired as a corporate consultant schedule a complimentary Discovery Call and we’ll help you get results.
Predictable Results™ Assignment
Study your prospective corporate client. The more information you have on the company the better you’ll do at customizing a solution that meets their needs. So make sure to do your homework. You can start by getting on their website and reviewing their mission statement, the bios of the decision makers and their PR materials.
Not sure where to start? Call 1-800-267-3245 for a free 30-minute strategy session to see how we can help you!
As a pioneering and visionary innovator, Sarah is a certified professional image consultant and brand strategist, speaker, trainer and author. Her company, Illustra Business Coaching, provides leading-edge business building strategies for small business owners & entrepreneurs who wish to take their company to the next level.
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Copyright © 2015, Sarah Hathorn, AICI CIM, CPBS
1-800-267-3245, [email protected]
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